Apr 22, 2021
Doug Ford COVID-19 Press Conference Ontario, CA Transcript April 22: Apologizes for Lockdown Measures
Ontario, Canada Premier Doug Ford held a press conference on April 22, 2021 to address COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. He apologized for lockdown measures that “went too far.” Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Premier Doug Ford: (00:00)
Well, good morning. My friends, I want to address the events of this past week. Last Friday, in response to extremely troubling modeling that told us we could see well over 15,000 cases a day, we move fast to put in measures in place to reduce mobility, but we moved too fast. And I know that some of those measures, especially around enforcement, they went too far. Simply put, we got it wrong. We made a mistake. These decisions, they left a lot of people very concerned. In fact, they left a lot of people angry and upset. I know we got it wrong. I know we made a mistake. And for that, I’m sorry and I sincerely apologize. Because as premier, as I said, right from the beginning, the buck stops with me. Again, I’m sorry and I apologized to each and every one of you.
Premier Doug Ford: (01:58)
I’m sure that you may have noticed that I’m speaking to you today while in isolation. I experienced a workplace exposure from a member of my team who despite their best efforts tested positive for COVID 19 earlier this week. And I assure you it is not lost on me that unlike many people, I’m able to isolate and continue working. For too many people right now that’s not the case. And during these unprecedented times, regardless of where you work or what you do, if you’re forced to go into isolation or quarantine, your job should be safe. That’s why Ontario was the first province to introduce legislation to have job protective leave for COVID. But it isn’t enough to know you can’t lose your job. You also need to know you won’t lose your income.
Premier Doug Ford: (03:08)
And if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you shouldn’t have to wait long for the support you need. And for months, my ministers and I have been trying to work with the federal government to fix the existing federal sick pay program. Unfortunately, Monday’s federal budget didn’t include the important improvements to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit that we needed to see. That’s why we’re now working on our own solution to fill those gaps for everyone in Ontario. Because I want workers to know as I have right from the beginning, I will always have your back. And I want all of you to know that I will always try to do what’s right. And that means if we get something wrong or make a mistake, we’ll fix it as soon as we can like we did this past weekend. But I know that many people continue to be unhappy right now. And I understand and I accept the responsibility for that.
Premier Doug Ford: (04:23)
Let me be clear. When it comes to protecting lives, protecting our hospitals and our people, we can’t waiver. But at this stage in the pandemic, over a year into this going through this terrible third wave, I assure you that there are no easy choices left. I know that these lockdowns they’ve been devastating for people. It means telling someone they can’t see their family or take a vacation. It means forcing someone to close their business, lose their paycheck. It means telling someone not to properly celebrate a wedding or sadly, be able to mourn the loss of someone we love. For some, it’s been dealing with isolation at home, the struggles with mental health and addiction. For others it’s been going to work despite the stress of working in a job that puts you and your loved ones at a higher risk of getting COVID.
Premier Doug Ford: (05:38)
I hear it every day, every single day, people telling me their stories, the stories that could make you cry, families that haven’t been able to hold hand. Hold on folks. I apologize. Hold the hand of their mum or dad as they passed away because of COVID-19 restrictions in hospitals. Healthcare workers who been pushed to the absolute limit, working to save lives. I want you to know that I hear you. I understand you’re going through. I understand your frustration, this experience, this pandemic is something that is affected every single person-
Speaker 1: (11:18)
Okay, your first question comes from Randy Rath with CHCH TV. Randy, if you could just unmute your mic. Try again, Randy.
Randy Rath: (11:36)
Premier Doug Ford: (11:38)
Randy Rath: (11:39)
Hey, thanks for taking my question. You’re talking about introducing legislation, I assume, to allow for paid sick days for people. Is this only going to be COVID specific? Is it going to end when COVID is no longer a problem or will paid sick days continue for workers that we now say are essential?
Premier Doug Ford: (12:02)
Yeah, good question, Randy. What we’re doing is we’re fixing the gap or bridging the gap of the federal government. And I think everyone has seen myself, and our minister of labor, minister of health out there for months, and we need to work with the program, the fed side, but there is a gap about two to three days that no one gets paid, so we’re going to be working on that. And we’re going to come up with a very strong program to protect the workers.
Speaker 1: (12:37)
Randy, do you have a followup? Randy, if you could just unmute
Randy Rath: (12:48)
There, how’s that? Can you hear me now?
Premier Doug Ford: (12:49)
Yep, I can hear you.
Randy Rath: (12:51)
Sorry about that. I’m wondering about going forward with vaccinations. You’ve had to rethink a lot of things. Are you going to rethink who is eligible for vaccination? Again, we’re talking to childcare workers, daycare workers, and they’re saying that they’re not in line to … they’re not a priority group and yet they have to be around little kids who can’t wear masks, those workers and frontline workers in grocery stores and that sort of thing, are you going to rethink who you’re vaccinating?
Premier Doug Ford: (13:26)
Yeah. Well, Randy, when it comes to the vaccines, I want to thank everyone out there. The person in the mass vaccination centers, their primary care docs, and the pharmacies have done a great job, and we just need to get more vaccines and really focus on our plan. And our plan is to target the hotspots, [be it Peel 00:13:48]. I’ll give you an example. Peel has 152 pharmacies. That’s more than anywhere in the country. We’re ramping up and we hope we’re going to get more vaccines in May. We’re really going to go hard, which we’re going right now. We have mobile units set up for going into companies, targeting companies, both in Peel. There’s, there’s 13 public health units with 114 hot areas, really hot areas. So that’s where we’re going to focus on the vaccines and we’re going to continue. Everyone across the province gets some, but we’re going to really focus on those areas.
Speaker 1: (14:37)
Your next question comes from Colin D’Mello with CTV News. Colin, if you could just unmute your mic.
Colin D’Mello: (14:43)
Hi, good morning, Premier, can you hear me?
Premier Doug Ford: (14:44)
Hi Colin. Yeah, I can hear you.
Colin D’Mello: (14:47)
Premier, you say the buck stops with you, but I think people across this province are wondering, what does that actually mean? Columnists have recently said there is no effective leadership at Queens Park. Another one said you are showing raging ineptitude, and some are calling for your resignation. Premier, do you still have the moral authority to lead this province as Premier?
Premier Doug Ford: (15:11)
Well, Colin, columnists and media, they have the right to voice their opinion. I can tell you, our team is strong. Our team is united. I’m so grateful to have the best caucus and cabinet that a Premier has ever had. We have the most diverse group of people I’ve ever seen, smartest group of people, and we’re going to continue to lead and get through this pandemic. And once we get through this pandemic, we’ll turn the economy on, like we have in the past. But I’m not one to walk away from anything. We’re going to continue to lead throughout this pandemic, as we have, right from the get go, Colin. Not long ago, before the whole world saw the third wave, we led North America with a lowest cases per hundred thousand for any region our size. We were the first to close down schools, first to put people in lockdown, as much as I hate doing it.
Premier Doug Ford: (16:14)
We were the first in so many different areas. We’re the first to protect people’s jobs. We went out and we made sure we took care of companies, giving them up to a $20,000 grant and then we doubled that for another $20,000. So there’s a lot of things that are moving in the right direction. We see with the vaccines and let me add, the limited amount of vaccines, we’re dealing with the cards we were dealt with to get us through this. Once the team out there, everyone, thousands of people have shown when we have vaccines, we’ll get them into people’s arms. We had a record-breaking a week this week, close to 130,000 yesterday, 130,000 or 131,000 the day before. I’m going more than 18 hours a day, every day, seven days a week. I’m not going to stop.
Speaker 1: (17:17)
Colin D’Mello: (17:20)
Okay, thank you, Premier. You recently said at a news conference that you do not mislead the public. The NDP, though, says that you actually led us off the cliff. They say we are now in free fall. And they say that you have blood on your hands. Premier, why should people trust you to lead us out of the third wave, when your government is responsible for bringing us into the third wave and all of the deaths, destruction, and devastation that has come along with it?
Premier Doug Ford: (17:50)
Well, I’m going to totally, sincerely disagree with that last comment, Colin. And first of all, when it comes to the NDP and Andrea Horwath, she has the right to say that.
Premier Doug Ford: (18:02)
… The NDP and Andrea Horwath. She has the right to say that. [inaudible 00:18:03] has the right to say whatever they want to say. All I know is I’ve been at this job 24/7 literally, every single day. I haven’t missed a day. I haven’t taken a break. And you know something? To say that I’m the reason there’s a third wave around the world, because it is around the world, to say that I’m responsible for not securing our borders that brought these variants and caused the third wave, to say that I’m responsible for not having enough vaccines, that we wouldn’t be in this position if we had tightened our borders, if we had ample vaccines like countries around the world, Collin, we wouldn’t be in this position right now. But we’re going to do everything we can. We’re going to move forward. And the results of our actions and the impacts of our actions, I think people will see over the next couple of weeks. And I hope to God that we’re right.
Speaker 1: (19:11)
Your next question comes from Laura Stone with The Globe and Mail. Laura, if you can unmute your mic.
Laura Stone: (19:17)
Hi, Premier. Can you hear me?
Premier Doug Ford: (19:18)
Yes, I can, Laura.
Laura Stone: (19:20)
I’m wondering if you can tell Ontarians what exactly your story for? You talked about, off the top, essentially instituting province-wide carding, which all of the police forces came out immediately against. Is that what you’re sorry for? Are you sorry for closing playgrounds? Are you sorry for not limiting essential businesses, as scientific advisors have called for? Are you sorry for not instituting paid sick leave for the past year? What exactly are you sorry for, and what are you going to do about it?
Premier Doug Ford: (19:50)
Well, I think, once we saw the modeling of 15,000 people, mortalities, they said, would be going skyrocketing. Yeah. That puts a scare in you. We saw that the mobility of people, they were moving. We saw it on the cell phone when we saw the data of the cell phones. People were moving all over the place. This is all about mobility.
Premier Doug Ford: (20:18)
And what reason I’m sorry? I’m sorry we acted too quick on the measures. All I hear is limit mobility, limit mobility. And we moved too quick. But anytime, if I make a mistake, I correct it immediately, which we did on the weekend. And again, when it comes to playgrounds, the people were telling me limit the mobility. And we corrected that. I’ve never locked down the parks. The parks have always been open. Each public health unit, if they want to lock down the parks or if they want to close things, that’s their choice. But I think we’ve done the right decision.
Premier Doug Ford: (21:08)
And again, the reason I’m here and I’m apologizing because we moved too quick with having people being pulled over, per se, you call it carding. But I want to tell the people of Ontario, I’ve never ever directed the police. I never have. I never will. The police have the discretion in their powers.
Speaker 1: (21:36)
Follow up, Laura?
Laura Stone: (21:40)
Premier, I think a lot of the scientific advisors, including the Science Table, would quibble with your characterization that you moved too fast. I mean, you didn’t do anything on essential business. You have not done anything on sick pay, and I know you say that you’re going to. And your government has closed all outdoor recreational facilities. I mean, it just seems like everything you guys did on Friday was the opposite of what the advisors were calling for. So, how can you say that you moved too fast? And are you going to reverse or change some of those other recommendations that most of the medical community is calling for?
Premier Doug Ford: (22:19)
Again, Laura, the modeling was showing that the numbers were going up to 15,000. And thank God they haven’t been, because of the actions that we’ve taken and we’ve act actions were taken in the past. Laura, I want to remind you and everyone, we have the most strict restrictions in all of North America. We’ve had a Peel and Toronto basically in lockdown since September. And we took action. We moved quickly on the schools. We locked down the schools. We made sure we put the stay at home order in right away. This is all about mobility. This is not about telling people you can’t go walk in the park, or take a jog, or ride on the bike. Over, and over, and over again every doctor I talked to, and I talked to endless doctors, hundreds of them, say, “Limit the mobility.” Get your exercise. Go ride your bike. After you’re done, we need to stay at home.
Premier Doug Ford: (23:26)
And, in some areas around the world, they’re taking a lot stricter restrictions. I’ve never been a believer in curfews like you see in Quebec, telling people they can’t leave their house permanently. Some docs are saying, “Do the Australian measures.” I don’t believe in those draconian measures. But what I can tell you, we have the best doctors in the entire world right here in Ontario. But I can also tell you that I have different views from many different doctors. When I talked to the doctors, I tell them kind of jokingly, “I’ll talk to ten doctors and get 11 different answers.” And they’re the best. So, they all have their opinions. And I listened to Dr. Williams and other docs and CEOs of hospitals.
Speaker 1: (24:20)
Your next question comes from Holly McKenzie-Sutter with The Canadian Press. Holly, if you could just unmute your mic.
Holly McKenzie-Sutter: (24:27)
Premier Doug Ford: (24:28)
Holly McKenzie-Sutter: (24:28)
I’m just wondering if you can give us… could you give us a firm date of when we’re going to see the details of the sick leave program and how soon people can access it?
Premier Doug Ford: (24:39)
Well, we’re working on that right now, and we’ll be rolling that out. But what I can tell you, it’s going to be one of the best, in conjunction with the federal government, in the entire north America. I also want to remind the people of Ontario, there’s no other province in this entire country that have the program that we’re going to be laying out, nowhere close.
Speaker 1: (25:06)
Follow up, Holly?
Holly McKenzie-Sutter: (25:10)
Yeah. I mean, we know that you’ve resisted introducing a provincial program like this for months, and many experts might argue this delay actually contributed to how bad third wave is right now. So, can you just explain to us why you waited months to develop this program, and if you have anything to say today to people who contracted COVID through the workplace over the last several months of the pandemic?
Premier Doug Ford: (25:34)
Well, Holly, as I said earlier, we’ve worked months publicly coming out. Again, our minister of labor, our minister of health, and myself come out numerous times. There’s 700 million dollars that have been sitting there from the federal government since September. And the system was broken. They made a quick little fix, but it wasn’t there. And we kept asking to tweak the changes. And, when the budget came out, there wasn’t any changes. And so, we’re going to take actions ourself. And we will have the best program anywhere in North America bar none.
Speaker 1: (26:23)
Your next question comes from Travis Dhanraj with Global News. Travis, if you can unmute your mic.
Travis Dhanraj: (26:31)
Hey, Premier. I am sorry to see that you are at home self isolating. I hope you’re feeling well and you continue to. This is the first time I have seen you this emotional in a very long time. And I’m just wondering about that what the reason is? And also on paid sick days, I mean, we were talking about this last week, if you remember. The previous government brought in a paid sick day programs and that’s what they had in Quebec. One of the first things that your government did is kill that program. You’re home right now. You have the luxury to do that. You’re making $800 a day.
Travis Dhanraj: (27:03)
You’re home right now, you have the luxury to do that. You’re making $800 a day or around there, and these folks don’t qualify for anything more than $450 a day. I know that you are going to do something now, but do you regret the decision to cut that program initially?
Premier Doug Ford: (27:18)
Oh Travis, first of all, I’ll answer your first question. I apologize to the people for getting emotional. The responsibility is huge on someone’s shoulders and you’re going 18 hours a day around the clock and I know we have the best team over. I know we have the best docs, everyone’s trying. Yeah, does it hit you sometimes? Yeah, it hits you sometimes and I apologize for that. But as for the federal program, we worked hard to the existing program and I’m going to give credit where credit’s due. It’s Premier Horgan in that aspect that led the charge out in BC and the other premiers followed BC. They do a great job, but again, all the provinces aren’t going to have a program that we have. We were hoping that we could work with the feds, to again, to fill that bridge, to fill that gap.
Premier Doug Ford: (28:17)
When someone goes gets tested and they don’t get paid for two or three days, we’re going to fix that program. I don’t believe on putting the burden on the backs of businesses throughout this pandemic that are struggling. I just don’t believe in hurting the businesses more than they’ve already been hurt. So, we’ll come up with this program. And again, it will be the best program in North America. We’re working on solutions as we talk right now.
Speaker 2: (28:51)
Travis, do you have a follow up? This will be the last question.
Travis Dhanraj: (28:55)
I do, thank you. I just want to follow up on something more Stone asked and also Collin. I know that Premier, you say that the government is not responsible for the third wave and what has happened, but the science table, the province’s own science table provided clear evidence since February. And in fact, Dr. Brown said in February, that we were walking towards a crisis. So, how’s the government not responsible when very clearly they ignored what the experts were saying for a very long time?
Premier Doug Ford: (29:27)
Yeah. Well, let me go back to what I said earlier, Travis, that right from the get-go, we’ve taken all the measures that again, Dr. Williams, other doctors. I had a good conversation with Dr. Brown, as part of the science table. I had a good conversation with him. We’ve taken extreme measures, extreme. And I’ll quote one of those doctors that said, if we didn’t take those measures that we did, we’d be seeing 15,000 cases a day, we’d be seeing mortalities go up at a rapid pace. We’ve taken some pretty strong measures. Again, the strongest measures in all of North America. We’ve seen cases/outbreaks, be it in Quebec or BC, obviously here in Ontario, we’ve seen them all throughout the United States. We’ve acted. We’ve acted quickly.
Premier Doug Ford: (30:23)
Again, no matter if it’s the schools doing rapid tests, millions and millions of rapid tests. We’re still testing for COVID the highest numbers in North America per capita than anyone. We’ve closed down our schools. We’ve put payments to support families with their kids and families right across the board, along with businesses too. And that’s a fraction of what I’m telling you. We’re going to continue moving forward. And people are frustrated now, I understand, but what I can tell the people of Ontario, we’re going to get through this. We get more vaccines, by the end of May if we get the right amount of vaccines, we’ll have every person in Ontario with their first shot. Those are staggering numbers. By the end of this month, with the limited supply of vaccines we’ve had, we’re going to hit 40% of the population. And we’re going to continue to build on that as we get more vaccines, we’re going to continue to ramp up the pharmacies. We have 24/7 pharmacies going now, over 20 of them, and we’re going to continue to ramp that up as well.
Speaker 2: (31:44)
Premier Doug Ford: (31:46)
Okay. Thank you, everyone. Stay safe. Thank you.