Apr 16, 2021

Doug Ford Press Conference Ontario, CA COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Orders Transcript April 16

Doug Ford Press Conference Ontario, CA COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Orders Transcript April 16
RevBlogTranscriptsCanada COVID-19 Briefing TranscriptsDoug Ford Press Conference Ontario, CA COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Orders Transcript April 16

Ontario, Canada Premier Doug Ford held a press conference on April 16, 2021 to address continued COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Read the transcript of the briefing here.

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Premier Doug Ford: (00:00)
… run away from tough decisions. And today I’m here to do just that. My friends we’re losing the battle between the variants and vaccines. The pace of our vaccine supply has not kept up with the spread of the new COVID variants. We are on our heels, but if we dig in, remain steadfast, we can turn this around. We’re down, but no means are we out. And the last few weeks you’ve seen me up here every day, we’ve been ringing the alarm bells for weeks. We pulled the emergency brake for the entire province. We shut down our schools. Most of the province has been in some form of lockdown since last fall. We announced a second stay at home order for all of Ontario. And as we saw on the modeling, these actions have slowed the spread, they’ve reduced mobility, and avoided the worst case. But we have to do more.

Premier Doug Ford: (01:22)
The reality is there are a few options left. We have implemented the strictest measures in all of North America. And the difficult truth is every public health measure we have left comes with a massive cost to people and their lives. But we have never shied away from doing what’s necessary, and it comes down to three things. Limiting mobility, enforcing the rules, and getting vaccines into arms. And as your Premier, it falls on me to make the difficult choices. It falls on me to do what’s necessary. So effective immediately, we’re extending the emergency declaration and prolonging the stay at home order province-wide for an additional two weeks for a total of six weeks. Outdoor gatherings will now be strictly limited to members of your own household only. Anyone who lives alone can join with one other household. We’ll be closing all nonessential construction. We’re restricting all outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds.

Premier Doug Ford: (02:48)
We’re reducing capacity in big box retail even further to 25%/. Beginning on Monday, places of worship will be capped at a maximum of 10 people indoors to get ahead of the variants that are plaguing Western Canada. Beginning Monday, we’re setting up checkpoints at all interprovincial borders. We’ll be limiting access to border crossings between Ontario and the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec with exceptions, such as work, medical care or transportation of goods. And we’re calling on the federal government to immediately tighten up our international borders. We’re currently facing the devastating consequences of COVID variants that entered Canada through our borders at the start of this year. We need to do more to stop other even deadlier variants from getting into Canda and causing more havoc. That means limiting air travel, tightening up our U.S. border and addressing the countless issues we’re seeing with testing and quarantining when people fly into our country.

Premier Doug Ford: (04:10)
Every week, over 36,000 people from all over the world come through Pearson International Airport, the variants that are causing this inferno, they got in through our borders and more needs to be done right now. For our part, we are taking decisive action on the ground to dramatically step up enforcement. We have made the difficult but necessary decision to give police and bylaw officers, special authorities to enforce public health measures for the duration of the stay at home order. I know that the majority of Ontario residents are doing the right thing. They’re following the rules, keeping each other safe, but we need to step up enforcement. We need to focus on those who are deliberately putting others at risk by ignoring the stay at home order, those gathering in large groups, continuing to put themselves and others at risk. So understand the restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced because they must be.

Premier Doug Ford: (05:24)
We know that when they’re followed these measures work, they reduce mobility and they do flatten the curve. We know this because we’ve seen them work before. What we need now is for everyone to follow these rules. These variants are infecting and killing younger people every day. We need more time to continue vaccinations to priority populations because getting needles in arms will help put this pandemic behind us. Through no fault of their own, certain communities are waging, a bigger battle than others. 20% of the province has 80% of cases right now. We need to use the limited vaccines we have to focus on the inferno because we will all benefit from getting these areas under control. That’s why we’re increasing vaccine supply to hotspots by 25%. And we’re pressing the federal government to get us those shipments. Every vaccine we receive goes into an arm.

Premier Doug Ford: (06:39)
Every single one is spoken for. We have seen clinics close and turn people away because we don’t have the supply we need. And just today, we learned about a further Moderna delay. And we clearly saw in the modeling more vaccines means fewer cases, more vaccines, mean fewer hospitalizations and more vaccines means we get out of this sooner. So if there’s anything at all the federal government can do right now to get us more vaccines, we need to get them now. I can’t emphasize that enough, we need the vaccines now. In the meantime, we’re taking immediate action to build unprecedented capacity in our hospitals. We’re moving forward with our emergency plan to add another 700 to 1000 new beds. We don’t want to use this new capacity, but I want the people of Ontario to rest assured it is there if we need it.

Premier Doug Ford: (07:50)
It has been remarkable watching our healthcare heroes fighting on the front lines, and I want them to know that more help is coming. And each of you have the most important role to play. Please stay home, follow the rules, and get your vaccine as soon as you’re eligible. My friends, you have my word, we will not rest until this virus is beaten. Thank you. And God bless the people of Ontario. Now I’ll pass it over to Minister Elliot.

Minister Christine Elliot: (08:27)
Thank you Premier. Like many provinces across Canada and jurisdictions around the world, Ontario is in the midst of the third wave of COVID-19. And as we’ve seen, this wave is different. Over the last few weeks, key health indicators have continued to worsen. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit occupancy are at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic. Variant cases, which are transmitted more quickly and easily continue to rise, putting even more lives at risk. And while we continue to use every resource at our disposal to support our hospitals and maximize health system capacity, our hospitals are being hit harder than ever. In one week, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has increased by almost 30% and there are about 150 more patients in our intensive care units bringing the total to 701 intensive care unit patients with COVID related critical illnesses. The latest projections released show that admissions to ICU’s are projected to rise to over 1000 patients by the end of the month.

Minister Christine Elliot: (09:43)
And today’s highly concerning modeling is very clear that unless further actions are taken, case rates will continue to rise pushing our hospitals to the brink. Our response needs to be stronger because our opponent the variants are that much stronger. That is why we are taking immediate action to respond to the ongoing threats to the health and safety of Ontarians. Effective Saturday, April 17th at 12:01 AM all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events will be prohibited except for members of that same household or members of a household and one other person from outside that household who lives alone. All non-essential workplaces in the construction sector will be closed with only essential construction permitted to operate. Capacity limits for in-person shopping in all retail settings, where in-person shopping is permitted, including supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, and stores that primarily sell food and pharmaceutical products will be limited to 25% capacity. All outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, and playgrounds will be closed.

Minister Christine Elliot: (11:02)
In addition, effective Monday, April 19th at 12:01 AM capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services will be limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Drive in services will be permitted. All other public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the province wide emergency break will continue to apply. We know the way out of the pandemic is vaccines. That’s why we are taking further action to support hotspot communities and focus on getting the vaccines to those who are most at risk. As part of phase two of our government’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, we are committed to dedicating 25% of future vaccine allocations to the 13 public health regions with historic and ongoing high rates of death, hospitalization, and COVID-19 transmission. While the greatest challenge to Ontario’s vaccine rollout remains…

Minister Christine Elliot: (12:03)
… while the greatest challenge to Ontario’s vaccine rollout remains a stable and reliable supply of vaccines from the federal government, we will continue to focus our vaccination efforts on those most at risk, working with our valued community partners and local public health units to mobilize every channel and deliver vaccines as quickly as possible. All Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe, they’re effective, and I strongly encourage everyone to sign up to receive the vaccine when it’s your turn.

Minister Christine Elliot: (12:35)
I know it’s been a longer winter, but now our summer is at risk. I am asking all Ontarians to please stay home to stop the third wave from threatening our healthcare system and the health of thousands of Ontarians. We may not feel it, but brighter days are ahead. They may not come as fast as we would like, but we will get there and it will take a collective effort from all of us. Thank you. And I’d now like to hand it over to the Solicitor General.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (13:18)
Thank you, Minister Elliott. As both the Premier and Minister Elliott stated, COVID-19 projections are moving in a dangerous direction across Ontario. With our hospital system experiencing devastating pressures as a result of sharp, upward trends in hospitalization and in intensive care unit capacities, it is essential that people respect the stay-at-home order and follow public health measures.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (13:44)
This is a critical moment in Ontario’s response to this deadly virus, and every single person in Ontario has an important role in protecting our communities. Unfortunately, some people continue to attend gatherings and leave their homes for non-essential reasons. As a government, it is our responsibility to take action to address non-compliance and prevent further transmission of COVID-19. That is why, after consulting with public health experts, we have made the deliberate decision to temporarily enhance police officer’s authority for the duration of the stay-at-home order. Moving forward, police will have the authority to require any individual who is not in a place of residence to, first, provide their purpose for not being at home and provide their home address. Police will also have the authority to stop a vehicle to inquire about an individual’s reason for leaving their residence.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (14:46)
I cannot stress this enough, it is imperative that everyone limit their trips outside of the home to permitted purposes only such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, medical appointments, outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. We know that stay-at-home orders work, we’ve seen their success in slowing down the spread of the virus and saving lives.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (15:14)
It is also critical that we protect against COVID-19 variants coming into Ontario through non-essential travel. That is why, effective April 19th at 12:01 AM, we are restricting travel into Ontario from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec with the exception purposes, such as work, medical care, transportation of goods and exercising indigenous treaty rights. Should an individual not have a valid reason to enter Ontario, they will be turned back.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (15:48)
These are tough but necessary measures to help us overcome this health crisis. We all want to get back to normal, but we can’t get there without all doing everything we can right now to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19. Together, we can make a difference to protect our loved ones and our communities. Please stay home, stay safe. Thank you. I will now turn it over to Minister McNaughton.

Minister McNaughton: (16:26)
Good afternoon. As we continue our fight to defeat this deadly virus, it’s crucial that we do everything possible to keep workers safe. Since the start of this pandemic, we’ve now done over 46,000 COVID-19 related inspections, issued more than 49,000 orders and stopped unsafe work 87 times. Our efforts have been laser focused on where they’re needed the most with blitzes in hotspot regions, targeting hundreds of big box stores, factories, and warehouses. In order to help reduce spread, we are shutting down some non-essential construction like shopping malls, hotels, and office towers. However, there are still projects that are critical to our health, like building our homes, our hospitals, assessment centers, and long-term care homes, and we need to ensure those on these sites are being kept safe. Starting today, over 200 inspectors are visiting more than 1300 construction sites over the next four weeks to ensure public health measures are in place.

Minister McNaughton: (17:35)
Travel to and from work has been a major contributor to the spread of this deadly virus. For that reason, we have repeatedly asked people who can work from home to do so. The sad reality is more and more people are being asked to go into the office. This cannot continue. That is why our inspectors will be visiting law offices, accounting firms and other workplaces over the coming days and weeks to make sure that those inside and onsite are protected and following the COVID-19 safety requirements.

Minister McNaughton: (18:10)
I cannot stress enough to employers, if your staff can work from home, they must work from home. And our inspectors will also be ensuring that those who absolutely must come to work are strictly following the public health measures. For our employers and employees, take note, this is your last warning. Thank you and stay safe everyone.

Speaker 2: (18:34)
We’ll go to the phone line for questions. First question, please.

Speaker 1: (18:39)
From Randy Russ at [inaudible 00:18:41] TV.

Premier Doug Ford: (18:42)
Hi, Randy.

Randy Russ: (18:43)
Yeah. Hi. Thanks for taking my question. I’m wondering about these new police powers to just randomly stop someone walking down the street or to pull over a car. What happens if a person refuses to answer the police questions?

Premier Doug Ford: (18:58)
Pass that to the Solicitor General.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (19:06)
So by issuing these new additional enforcement measures, it allows police officers to ask the person why they are not at their place of residence and what their place of residence is. And specifically to your question, if you are not willing to comply, then you are breaking the law and there is an option for the police officer to issue a ticket. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (19:29)
Follow up?

Randy Russ: (19:32)
How much is the ticket? Also, if someone sees their neighbors breaking these new regulations and having a party in their yard, that sort of thing, should people call the police on their neighbors?

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (19:48)
So in terms of the ticket cost, that of course is set by the chief justice. Currently, if you break an order under the EMCPA, then it is $750, as I understand it.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (20:02)
In terms of people calling to snitch to inform, look, we all have a personal responsibility, and I would hope that the vast majority of us would take that personal responsibility seriously. When we see the ICU numbers rise, I would hope that people would take a second thought and consider their neighbors, consider those healthcare workers who have been working incredibly hard over the past 12 years. I’m never going to encourage people to inundate the bylaw enforcement or police departments with calls, but if it means saving lives, then I think we have to think about what your social responsibilities are as an individual to make sure that you don’t empower other people and invite a whole bunch of individuals to your home. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (20:59)
Next question.

Speaker 1: (20:59)
From Natasha MacDonald at Radio Canada.

Premier Doug Ford: (21:04)
Hi, Natasha.

Natasha MacDonald: (21:05)
Hi, Premier. Should the federal government toss the per capita approach and instead distribute more vaccines to the hardest hit regions like the GTA?

Premier Doug Ford: (21:14)
Well, what we need from the federal government, Natasha, we just need more supply. This isn’t a capacity issue, it’s a supply issue, and I’ve been saying that right from day one. I’m sure they’re working hard for the supply, but we need them to double down their efforts and we need them as well to push [inaudible 00:21:37] decision on AstraZeneca.

Premier Doug Ford: (21:39)
Folks, you look at the U.K. right now, they had less cases than all of Ontario. They knocked the age down to 30 years of age with AstraZeneca. And if you have an opportunity to get AstraZeneca, or Moderna, or Pfizer, do it, but I just want to show you a chart. I don’t know if you can zoom in, Jamie, or not, but this is what Dr. Brown showed. This is at a hundred thousand and it just escalates up to 30,000 cases compared to the green lines with tough restrictions. It’s a game changer. We have the capacity to do 300,000 tests. We just don’t have the supply. And we all know there’s one way of getting out of this, to follow the protocols. That’s an automatic. But if we continue just getting dribs and drabs and missing Moderna shipments and so on and so forth, we aren’t getting out of this. More people are going to die. More people are going to be in ICUs. But if we can ramp it up to 300,000 a day, then again, you will see the drastic… So this is a hundred thousand up there. This is if you do 300,000. It’s night and day. We’re going to have a summer. We’re going to open up businesses. We’re going to be able to open up restaurants and bars and get the kids back in school. It all comes down to one thing, the supply of vaccines. Simple as that

Speaker 2: (23:12)
Followup?

Natasha MacDonald: (23:15)
Ontario asked for help, and Alberta and Saskatchewan aren’t sending healthcare workers to Ontario, Quebec still hasn’t decided. If not enough help comes from within Canada, is there a possibility that Ontario will have to turn to the U. S. to help with staffing our ICUs? How bad is the situation?

Premier Doug Ford: (23:33)
Well, before I pass to the Minister of Health, I have reached out to all the Premiers, and we’re a close group of Premiers, I can assure you that, and I know if there’s anything they can do, they will do for us. It goes back to the maritime provinces helping out on the last situation. They were shipping tractor trailer loads of meals over to the hospital, sending us antigen, sending us anything we-

Premier Doug Ford: (24:03)
… sending us antigens, sending us anything we can. They’re a phenomenal group of premiers. Look what’s happening out in BC with Premier Horgan. He’s getting it hard with the Brazilian variant. This is the reason, folks, we need to tighten up our borders. I’m first to welcome everyone around the world, but when we see 36,000 people coming in and some people go, “Oh, it’s only 1.8%.” Well, let me tell you something. When we first pushed getting the testing done, even though it’s not our jurisdiction, and they’ve taken over 2,200 people were tested positive coming into our country that I know of right now. It doesn’t take 2,200 people to spread these variants. It takes five people, four people. You saw what happened in the long-term care home in Barrie, when one person went in a long-term care home, it spread like wildfire. And these variants, I can assure you, aren’t swimming across the ocean by themselves. They’re being brought in. We need to tighten up the borders.

Premier Doug Ford: (25:16)
We’re going to lock down our borders in Ontario for the first time in recent memory that I could ever remember. And now, the federal government needs to step up and they need to tighten up these borders like we’ve never seen before. We have to make sure we control the variants coming into our country. And I’ll pass it over to the Minister of Health.

Minister Christine Elliot: (25:41)
Well, yes, we have requested assistance from our provincial and territorial partners, but the reality is, as the premier indicated, we know that several of the Western provinces are being very hard hit by the variants, particularly the Brazilian variant. The most likely possibility of assistance is to come from the Maritime provinces, which have the Atlantic bubble and have not been as hard hit as Ontario has or Western provinces. But we’re also building capacity internally within our hospitals. We’ve got the physical capacity of having the beds. We’ve already added over 3,400 beds to our capacity since this time last year, which is the equivalent of six new community-sized hospitals. But, of course, we also need the health, human resources to go along with that.

Minister Christine Elliot: (26:28)
One of the ways that we’re going to increase capacity in that respect is by ramping down the surgeries and procedures that had been scheduled, so that those personnel that are already in our hospitals will now be able to care for COVID patients. But we’re also extending our student extern program to students who are in their final years of nursing programs to be able to come in and work under supervision. We are working with having some retired nurses being able to come back and dealing with having them requalified so they can practice as well, and we are also looking at some international jurisdictions as well to bring in the several thousand more nurses, respiratory therapists and anesthesia assistants.

Premier Doug Ford: (27:13)
And just going back to our premiers, I know they would do anything to help the people of Ontario. Just because their capacity right now, they’re going to be maxing out and I’m sure Quebec is as well. But, again, I always say, I love the Maritimers. I love the East Coasters. Do you know who has been an absolute champion? They all have been by the way, but Dr. Andrew Furey, Premier Furey, the new premier of Newfoundland.

Premier Doug Ford: (27:46)
I’ll tell you, the people in Newfoundland, I love you. I love all the East Coasters, and he has called me more than anyone. He is messaging me. “How can I help you?” He’s trying to put teams in a small place like Newfoundland. This is … They wear their heart on their sleeves out there. He’s putting some professional healthcare workers together. He says it might not be much because we aren’t that large, but it’s just the effort and the caring coming together right across the country. And I’ll tell you, when we get through this, I’m taking a trip out to the East Coast and thanking all of the Maritime provinces. I’m so, so grateful. Very grateful, Andrew. Thank you.

Speaker 3: (28:27)
Next question.

Speaker 4: (28:29)
From Jeff Gray at The Globe and Mail.

Premier Doug Ford: (28:32)
Hi, Jeff.

Jeff Gray: (28:33)
Hi, Premier. I wanted to ask I guess first about the ICUs. Dr. Brown’s numbers show that no matter what changes are made to the public health measures, those ICU’s are going to hit levels that I think we all thought were unimaginable in past months, up to 1,000, 1,500, 2,000, and that there’s no way to reverse that ship in the short term. Do you regret or do you acknowledge that it would have been, as some critics have said, a much better idea to bring in these tough, strong measures you’re doing now weeks earlier to just keep that number from cresting up so high?

Premier Doug Ford: (29:14)
No. You know something? That wouldn’t have stopped it, and let me tell you what we have done. For all the way back to the fall, we have parts of this province that had been in gray lockdown. We closed the entire province. We closed the schools twice. We’ve increased healthcare. Let me go back to the beginning. We scrambled everywhere. When this first happened over a year ago, we didn’t have any PPEs here. We put a whole system of PPEs together. Now, we’re self-sufficient. There was no testing in place at all. Now, we’re number one in North America on testing. We strengthened our border along with the testing. Folks, it’s like we are all … Not me. I’m not worried about myself. It’s like we’ve all been pushing this boulder up a mountain, and until we have more vaccines, we need stricter measures.

Premier Doug Ford: (30:12)
I’m going to pass it over to Dr. Williams, but let me reassure you the measures, after talking Dr. Brown, if we didn’t take the tighter measures that we have over the last couple of weeks, the cases would be skyrocketing. So because we did act decisively, the cases aren’t where they might’ve been there. Sure, they’re high, but nothing compared to what the worst case scenario is. Folks, we have put everything on the field now. Everything. Now, we need the cooperation, which we have. A vast majority, probably 90% of the population has been working their backs off, but we have some folks … I took a drive just to check out the area down here. You go by the parks, and it’s like business as usual. I just don’t understand it. I’ve been up here ringing the alarm bells. Again, 90% of the people are following, and I’m so grateful for that, but some people are putting everyone else at risk. I’ll pass it to Dr. Williams.

Dr. Williams: (31:26)
So further to what the premier has said and further to our presser that I did with Dr. Brown a couple of hours ago, the aspect you’re asking about, the projection of the ICU capacity, as they have pointed out to us that that has set in line with a number of cases we’d seen before, so it is not that changeable in the next few weeks, because it is a delayed metric in there. I gave an example that when they gave us their modeling three weeks ago, they said by now we would be at 600 to 700 ICU beds. That’s where we are today. Two weeks ago, they said, “You’re still going to be at 600 to 700,” and today they predicted we are at 600 to 700, so some of those data points move quicker.

Dr. Williams: (32:08)
A few weeks ago, they said we would max out at 3,000 cases a day, and then two weeks ago, they said, we’d max out with our measures at 2,800. They had to change that because the data changes. The information around the variance of concern changes because the way it’s handled, and it’s moving its way through. That’s we want from our monitors. They’ve got to be able to update and change the analytics, but some things move quickly and some things don’t, and so their projection is that we will head up towards a thousand ICU bed occupancy in the next couple of weeks. It’s probably the direction it’s going to head in because that’s already in motion already starting two or three weeks ago in that sense.

Dr. Williams: (32:43)
So we’re following all the directions, as the premier noted. When they asked us back on April 1st to bring in stronger measures, two days later we did. When they asked us a week ago to bring in stay at home we did, and today we’re taking some more steps and we’re being advised by them as well as our public health measures table and moving to work with the public to bring about what we need in strong public health measures to bend the curve on this one yet again. I know we can do it, and I’m confident that Ontarians together, we can make this happen.

Speaker 3: (33:12)
Followup?

Jeff Gray: (33:16)
[inaudible 00:33:16] maybe to the premier or the Minister of Health and Dr. Williams, if you could explain a bit about for weeks, we’ve heard people saying that it is less risky to be outside, to go to a park or to do exercise, whatever. And now we’re hearing that playgrounds and outdoor are going to be-

Speaker 3: (33:36)
Jeff? Jeff, could you just repeat your question? You’re a little unclear.

Jeff Gray: (33:42)
Oh, sorry about that. I’m having trouble with my phone today. Sorry about that. Just want to ask the question about outdoors. There have been lots of people saying that outdoor activities were safer, and for weeks people have said that that’s actually a good thing to do. Get outside. People need to get outside, but now these new measures are going to clamp down on that. Can you explain why that move is being taken, playgrounds and so on. There’s nothing else for a lot of people to do, and we were led to believe that outdoors was safer.

Premier Doug Ford: (34:13)
Yeah. I’m not and as a group are not saying don’t take a walk around and get some exercise, but, Jeff, have you ever been by some of these parks? The parks are packed. But I’m going to pass this to the Minister of Health?

Minister Christine Elliot: (34:32)
Well, generally speaking, yes, it is better to be outdoors than indoors. The variants don’t spread as quickly, but the problem is that many people are outdoors in larger groups, and they’re not following those public health measures like wearing a mask, keeping physical distance and so on. That’s how we’re seeing this increased transmission. So, yes, please go ahead. Go outside and exercise. People need to walk their dogs, go out and do that, but don’t do it in groups other than members of your household and still keep following public health measures that are so important for all of us to reduce transmission.

Speaker 3: (35:07)
Next question.

Speaker 4: (35:09)
From Rob Ferguson at the Toronto Star.

Premier Doug Ford: (35:12)
Hi, Rob.

Rob Ferguson: (35:15)
Hi, Premier. This is the third time in three weeks you’ve increased restrictions after two months of warnings from the public, from Steini Brown and science people not to ease measures too much. Why are you convinced this is enough. Because I heard you say just a few minutes ago that everything is on the field now, but Amazon Warehouse is still open without reduced staff capacity and places like that where essential workers are catching the virus and taking it home and infecting other members of their households.

Premier Doug Ford: (35:49)
Well, again, Rob, we have that three-prong approach, limiting mobility, targeting areas like the Amazons, getting in there in the hot areas. 20% of the …

Premier Doug Ford: (36:03)
… Amazon’s getting in there in the hot areas, 20% of the areas represent 80% of the cases. So we’re having mobile units to go into places like the Amazon’s, like other large employers in the hot areas. And we’re also handing out the rapid tests. I think we’ve handed an excess of over 3 million, it’s probably higher by now. We’re doing everything possible to make sure that we test people. I’m going to pass it over to Dr. Williams and he can run through, again, what we’ve done over the last few weeks.

Dr. Williams: (36:44)
Rob, as I just said before, we have been following in stride with that. As the Premier noted, we’ve had restrictions in Ontario in place with our framework all fall and enhancing that with number of places in lockdown in various levels since before Christmas and continuing. So we continue to ramp up as necessary and doing it the right time in the right way. We’ve been following, as I noted, back three weeks ago as someone has asked already, the Science Table is saying, “You need to be some more effort to lock down.” And we did that, we went province wide. And they said, “But a lot more activity can take place outdoors,” and we followed that and tried to do that.

Dr. Williams: (37:24)
Then we found, as [inaudible 00:37:26] has alluded to, people were not adhering to the public health measures. Because, the strength of our measures it’s very important that the people take it as seriously as we do. So strong measures require strong cooperation and strong participation. And we need that. And I’ve been concerned that over the while, as we put those in, some people have become I’d say more complacent.

Dr. Williams: (37:46)
Nevertheless, there’s a large part of our population who are doing the right thing every day, day in and day out. And I applaud them for that. Those who have started to let that slide have to get back and focus again and are finding out, unfortunately, for some that where they thought there was not an issue now with the new variants it is causing much harm in their family and personally. And they have to really focus in on this and stick to the measures that we’re bringing in today. And we’re following the direction, again, in phase with what the Science Table has been advising.

Minister McNaughton: (38:23)
Yeah. Rob, I just want to reiterate about the importance of health and safety for every single worker out there. We’ve spared no expense to protect workers. That’s why we’ve done nearly 47,000 workplace inspections to date, more than 20,000 since January the 1st. And as I said earlier, Rob, we’ve now shut down 87 unsafe workplaces in job sites, about 20 in the last couple of weeks. So to every employer out there, you know the rules, we have a zero tolerance approach in every type of workplace, employers and employees must follow these rules.

Moderator: (39:00)
Follow up?

Rob: (39:05)
Okay. Thanks everyone and Monte for that. Changing tack to the travel restriction on the borders with of the boundaries, sorry, with Manitoba and Quebec. You mentioned, Premier, that you want to stop some of these other variants from getting in from Western Canada. And I’m wondering, do you honestly think more people are driving into Ontario from the west than flying? Because I would venture that there’s probably lots of flights arriving every day from Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, places like that, far more than people that are driving in and aren’t they the biggest threat?

Premier Doug Ford: (39:42)
Rob, I agree with you 100%. But in saying that, I’m sure the people, the other provinces, don’t want people from Ontario traveling. I’ll give you one example, I know of someone that flew out, was it last week, to Vancouver stayed a couple days and flew back. That’s what we’re trying to avoid, folks. We have to lock it down on the province. That’s not our jurisdiction. That’s the federal government’s jurisdiction, air travel. And I’m asking him to tighten up our borders coming from all around the world. But we need to do the same inter-provincial, and I’ll pass this over to the Solicitor General.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (40:30)
So as you know, federal aviation is controlled by the Canadian Government. We were successful in initially setting up testing for international travelers at Pearson. Now the federal government has taken over that responsibility and we are asking, respectfully, please don’t just do international travelers that are coming into Pearson. Do domestic travelers, do US travelers. We have to test people when they are coming into Ontario to make sure that our citizens are protected, and frankly they can get the protection if they need to self isolate for 14 days.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (41:09)
In terms of the actual borders between Manitoba and Quebec, there are 43 different road pathways through Quebec and Manitoba and we want to check those visitors. Why are you coming into Ontario at this time? Is it necessary for medical personal and work reasons? And if it’s not, respectfully, you need to turn away until we deal with the variants and until we get sufficient vaccines to make sure that our citizens are protected. Thank you.

Premier Doug Ford: (41:41)
Just one more thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before. Do you know who our heroes are too? Along with the firefighters, paramedics our police? Our Canadian Border Protection Officers. No one talks about them. Imagine being there every day and having 36,000 people come to you in a week? And, they need to be protected too. They’re on the front lines, the first of the frontline to protect our country. So I want to say to the Canadian Customs Officers, I have your backs, you guys are champions, and they need to be protected. And if the federal government doesn’t get them vaccinated, we need to. Because they’re facing really tough challenges with people coming from all over the world face to face, literally. So I got to give a shout out to our customs officers, I have your back and we’ll make sure one way or another we’ll get you vaccinated because they’re a priority, essential service.

Moderator: (42:47)
Last question.

Allison Martell: (42:49)
I’m Allison Martell at Reuters. Thank you.

Premier Doug Ford: (42:53)
Hi Alison.

Allison Martell: (42:53)
So it looks at this point all but certain that Ontario will still soon have more critically-ill COVID patients than ICU beds. That means people will have heart attacks, they will be hit by cars, they will catch COVID at work and they will receive substandard care. Or maybe only limited care to keep them comfortable while they die. Why not close some not essential manufacturing and distribution workplaces now and reduce that death toll?

Premier Doug Ford: (43:18)
Okay. You know something? When we talk about the non-essential manufacturing, you look at the supply chain. The supply chain is so, so deep. Are you going to pick one and not the other? The supply chain is deep. Do you know who I wish was here is Vic Fedeli. He was talking about the forestry. Someone said, “Why don’t you close down the forestry?” There’s a product in the forestry that is in aspirins and in dozens and dozens of different products. And someone that makes a light switch… I could go on and on and on.

Premier Doug Ford: (43:57)
What we need to do? I’ll tell you what we need to do. First of all, we need to make sure the mobility stops. We have to make sure that we get the vaccines into people’s arms. We need to make sure that we enforce the stay-at-home order. It works, folks. That’s what we need. We need that more than anything. The bottom line is… This is the bottom line, would we be in this position if we were getting 300,000 vaccines back in February, like the rest of the world? The answer is absolutely not. We wouldn’t be facing the crisis with ICU. We wouldn’t be having shutdowns. We wouldn’t have the school shut down. We need the vaccines and whatever, hook by crook, whatever, the feds need to get us the vaccines. Bottom line.

Moderator: (44:47)
Follow up?

Allison Martell: (44:49)
Other countries and other provinces have closed some manufacturing work places during surges. Many major manufacturing workplaces closed voluntarily during the first wave. Is there not a single item Ontario makes or distributes that can wait a month?

Premier Doug Ford: (45:03)
I’ll pass it over to the Minister of Labor.

Minister McNaughton: (45:06)
Look, we’re protecting the health and safety of every single worker. There’s millions of people that have worked throughout this pandemic to ensure that we have food on our plates, that we have those vital pharmaceutical supplies that we need. We’re going to continue to stand with every single worker out there. That’s why we’re doing hundreds of inspections every day in the province. That’s why we’re focusing on Peel and Halton Regions and in the GTA to get into those warehouses and distribution centers and factories to protect every worker.

Minister McNaughton: (45:39)
And again, there’s no excuses for employers. They know exactly what they need to be doing. We put up hundreds of resources, posters, tip sheets, videos, webinars at ontaria.ca/COVIDsafety in multiple languages. And if any worker out there feels unsafe, they can call our ministry and we’ll investigate at 877/ 202-0008. But we’re going to continue every single day to ensure that workplaces are safe for workers.

Moderator: (46:08)
Thanks everyone.

Premier Doug Ford: (46:11)
Thank you, everyone. Have a safe weekend. God bless you. We’ll get through this, I promise you.