Apr 7, 2021

Doug Ford Press Conference Ontario, CA Stay-At-Home Orders Transcript April 7

Doug Ford Press Conference Ontario, CA Stay-at-Home Orders Transcript April 7
RevBlogTranscriptsCanada COVID-19 Briefing TranscriptsDoug Ford Press Conference Ontario, CA Stay-At-Home Orders Transcript April 7

Ontario, Canada Premier Doug Ford held a press conference on April 7, 2021 to announce COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Read the transcript of the briefing here.

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Premier Doug Ford: (12:32)
Well, good afternoon. There’s no doubt that this third wave has been different from anything we’ve faced so far. The risks are greater, and the stakes are higher. Right now, we have a two-part strategy. First, get needles into arms, and limit mobility, limit the spread to protect our ICUs in hospitals. We need to get the vaccines where they will have the greatest impact as quickly as possible.

Premier Doug Ford: (13:10)
Yesterday, we announced new details and how we’re going to get more vaccines to hotspots right across the regions as quickly as possible. This will be critical to getting this third wave under control. We’re moving into the next phase of our vaccine distribution strategy. As we speak, mobile vaccination teams are being organized to get vaccines to where they will have the greatest impact.

Premier Doug Ford: (13:39)
We’re deploying numerous mobile vaccine clinics in shelters, residential buildings, community centers, as well as churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other faith-based locations in the highest risk neighborhoods. This will include mobile vaccine clinics in high-risk workplaces that will remain open for the sake of our supply chain, starting with those in hotspot regions. As we bring these mobile clinics online, vaccines will be eligible for people age 18 years of age and over in the high-risk neighborhoods.

Premier Doug Ford: (14:21)
Friends, our frontline education workers are absolute champions. While our experts tell us that schools remain a safe space for students and workers, we want to do everything we can to keep them the same way, so beginning next week, workers who support students with special education needs across Ontario as well as all education workers in high-risk neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel will be eligible for vaccines. As the supply allows, we will expand to more high-risk neighborhoods in other hotspots followed by a rollout to all-

Premier Doug Ford: (15:03)
… hotspots, followed by a rollout to all education workers across the province. And as we ramp up our vaccine distribution, we also need to make sure we take the steps necessary to slow the spread of the virus and protect our ICU and hospital capacity. The reality is, despite everything we’ve done so far, the COVID-19 situation in Ontario is getting worse as these new variants continue to spread. Our hospitals are reaching capacity and patients in the GTA must now be sent to other parts of the province for care. In fact, we learned yesterday morning that admissions to ICUs in the past week are increasing faster than the worst case scenario predicted by our experts. My friends, I’m hearing from more and more of our hospital CEOs about the situation in our hospitals in ICU’s. I can’t stress this enough things are extremely, extremely serious right now, and I’m extremely concerned.

Premier Doug Ford: (16:12)
The situation is evolving rapidly hour by hour. And as things change, as we learn more about these deadly new variants, as we see new problems arise, we need to adapt. We need to move quickly and decisively. And right now, above all else, our plan is to get needles into the arms and protect our hospitals. That’s why today on the advice of the chief medical officer of health, I’m declaring a state of emergency with a province-wide stay at home order effective 12:01 AM Thursday. This will be in effect for four weeks. With a few exceptions, the stay at home order will be similar to what we went through earlier this year. To boil it down as simple as possible, folks, please, unless it’s for an essential reason, please stay home, because the situation is extremely serious and we just need to hunker down right now. We need to limit mobility.

Premier Doug Ford: (17:22)
Nonessential retail stores will go back to curbside pickup, with delivery allowed from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Big box and discount stores will be allowed to sell essential items only. I’m going to repeat that. Essential items only, such as food, medicine, cleaning supplies, and personal care items. During a stay at home order, residential evictions will once again be suspended, because no one should live in fear of losing their home. And these measures are in addition to the emergency brake shutdown we imposed last week. I know this is tough on businesses, but I promise we will continue to have your backs. In our 2021 budget, we doubled the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, providing eligible small businesses up to $40,000 to get through this. But with these additional measures, we will limit mobility, limit the spread, keep people safe and allow more time to deliver vaccines. And be assured vaccines remain our best hope to beat this virus.

Premier Doug Ford: (18:32)
Yesterday, we administered a record number of vaccines, over 104,000, for a total of 2.7 million to date. We also booked more than a hundred thousand appointments yesterday. And as of noon today, we have 128,000 appointments already booked, for a total of 1.6 million appointments to date. And I continue to ask everyone to get a vaccine as soon as you’re eligible to do so. Please folks, this is how you can help us. All Ontarians 60 and older are now eligible to book their vaccination appointments by visiting ontario.ca/covidvaccine, or by calling 1-888-999-6488. That’s 1-888-999-6488. And for all Ontarians 55 and over, we’re rolling out vaccinations at more than 700 pharmacies across the province, with more added each week. You can visit ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine, to find a neighborhood pharmacy that is administering vaccines.

Premier Doug Ford: (19:53)
My friends, make no mistake these next four weeks are absolutely critical. We’ve come so far already, and we just need to stick together a little longer, because hope is on the horizon. I promise you that better days are ahead of us. Based on the vaccines we expect to receive from the federal government, so as long as they come through, I’m expecting that we will be able to have 40% of Ontario adults vaccinated by the end of the four week stay at home order. And that’s when things start to change dramatically in our favor. But the decisions we make now, how we handle the next four weeks, what we do until we start achieving mass immunization, will be the difference between life and death for thousands of people. And I can’t put it any more clear than that. Thank you, and God bless the people of Ontario. Now I’ll pass it over to Minister Elliott.

Minister Christine Elliott: (21:02)
Thank you, Premier. Like other jurisdictions across Canada and around the world, Ontario is in the third wave of the pandemic. However, this wave is different. COVID-19 variants are transmitted more quickly and easily putting even more lives at risk. In recent days, we’ve continued to hear from our health system partners. They are concerned. Many of them are afraid. Our hospitals are being hit hard. Intensive care units have more patients now than they ever did in previous waves. With many hospitals at capacity, we are seeing patients being transferred to other hospitals for the care they need. Sometimes hundreds of kilometers away. While we commend this team Ontario effort by our hospitals, we know this can be devastating for patients and their loved ones. And quite frankly, it’s not sustainable. And while best efforts have been made, long delayed surgeries and procedures are being canceled.

Minister Christine Elliott: (22:06)
This is devastating, not only for patients and their families, but healthcare workers who face the consequences of our strained healthcare resources, firsthand. Additional measures are needed to address the rate of COVID-19 transmission. That’s why we’re not enacting additional public health measures and a stay at home order to preserve health system capacity and to save people’s lives. This will not impact essential retail settings, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, which will continue to have in-person shopping with restrictions. However, big box stores will be required to limit retail sales to essential items. This includes grocery items, household cleaning, supplies, pharmaceutical items, healthcare items, personal care items, and pet care supplies. Other changes include additional restrictions for non-essential retail, including permitting only delivery and curbside pickup with restrictions. Access to shopping malls will be restricted to specific purposes, such as access to designated pickup locations via appointment.

Minister Christine Elliott: (23:20)
These are difficult but necessary decisions, and our government will continue to respond decisively to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, using the best evidence and advice we are given to protect the health of Ontarians. We have heard health experts talk about how we can look forward to a more normal summer. However, we are not there yet. It will take a collective effort from all of us. Our vaccination rollout is strong in focusing on our most vulnerable populations. However, the current level of vaccination is not enough to prevent the spread of the virus that we are currently seeing. Yesterday, as part of phase two of our vaccine rollout, we announced we are expanding our efforts to ensure people in hotspot regions are prioritized to receive the vaccine.

Minister Christine Elliott: (24:15)
To support this expanded vaccination effort, mobile teams are being organized to administer vaccines in high risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations and locations occupied by large employers in hotspot neighborhoods, to individuals aged 18 or over. Pop-up clinics will also be set up in highly impacted neighborhoods, in collaboration with public health units and community organizations. We are making steady progress, but until everyone can get vaccinated, please follow all public health measures and please sign up to get vaccinated when it is your turn, we need all Ontarians to do your part to stop the spread of this deadly virus and keep our families, loved ones and community safe. Thank you. And I’d now like to hand it over to the solicitor general.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (25:22)
Thank you, Minister Elliott. As the premier stated, the province of Ontario has officially enacted its third provincial declaration of emergency in response to COVID-19 and variants of concern. We do not take this decision lightly, but we are seeing alarming daily case numbers and hospital capacity is being stretched to the limits, despite the health measures we’ve asked people to follow. At this critical period, urgent action is required to slow the surging spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Effective Thursday, April the eighth at 12:01 AM, a stay at home order will be implemented requiring that people only leave their homes for permitted purposes, such as groceries, going to the pharmacy and medical appointments. All businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home should be working from home, rather than going into the workplace. We are also urging Ontarians to restrict travel outside of their home region.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (26:27)
I cannot stress enough how important the actions of each individual in Ontario will be today, tomorrow, and in the coming weeks as we confront this threat to the health and wellbeing of our communities. It is critical now more than ever, that people adhere to the orders and follow public health measures. Please stay home, stay safe. And let me be clear, these measures will be enforced. We know it hasn’t been easy and nothing about this pandemic has been. Ontarians have already made immeasurable sacrifices, but we need to do more. To make a difference and to help keep people safe, extraordinary action is needed from every single one of us. This is about saving lives. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 can only be done by taking the necessary precautions and following measures that will protect our families, our neighbors, and our communities. Thank you.

Premier Doug Ford: (27:35)
Well Allie, before we take questions, I want to address something about the paid sick days. My message to the opposition and then everyone else, because there’s a lot of people that are playing politics right now, and it’s totally irresponsible. They’re doing a disservice to the people that they’re telling this to. There’s paid sick leave from the federal government. And I want to thank the prime minister for mentioning that yesterday at his press conference. It was greatly appreciated. Folks because of all the premier’s in the federal government, we negotiated $1.1 billion of sick pay. There’s still $750 million available. And to get paid sick days, go online to www.canada.ca/covid-19. That’s www.canada.ca/covid-19.

Premier Doug Ford: (28:43)
So far 300,000, that’s 300,000 Ontarians have accessed the program already. So to all the opposition and everyone that’s preaching about the sick days and playing politics, rather than do that, why don’t you try to help someone by telling them where they can go? That’s a disservice if you tell them anything but that. So, I’ll be ready to take questions, Allie.

Allie: (29:11)
We’ll go to the phone line for questions. First question, please.

Speaker 1: (29:15)
Your first question comes from Cynthia Mulligan with CityNews. Please go ahead.

Premier Doug Ford: (29:19)
Hi, Cynthia.

Cynthia Mulligan: (29:21)
Hi, Premier. The health sciences table warned weeks ago that the third wave was going to be driven by variants and that this was going to happen. Instead, you chose to start easing restrictions. Last week, the sciences table recommended a stay at home order. Only six days later are you actually implementing one when it seems your back was up against the wall. Why did you wait and are you listening to science, or aren’t you?

Premier Doug Ford: (29:48)
Well, I’m listening to health and science and I listened to Dr. Williams from day one, and I’ve never wavered from that. But Cynthia, even the people that were showing us the charts and where we were going, the ICU has taken off. The capacity at the ICU…

Premier Doug Ford: (30:03)
The capacity at the ICUs and these variants have taken off even beyond what they told us. And the second I found out yesterday, immediately I asked him to start writing up the orders. This is moving rapidly, every single hour by hour, day by day, and a decision last week doesn’t represent a decision today. And again, I want to emphasize that we acted immediately, as soon as I found out that the ICU capacity and on top of that, the variant, was moving rapidly. I’ll pass it over to Dr. Williams.

Dr. Williams: (30:50)
Well, thank you, premier. And I think it’s important as we get the updates from our modeling table that looks at projections and the data that’s coming in, we pay close attention to all those aspects, including the inputs from all our local public health units, Public Health Ontario, and other aspects on our federal provincial territorial committees. These are projections and we look at them, we respond. I think what is misinterpreted is that by coming with the stay-at-home order now that things have not been done or undertaken up til now, that’s totally incorrect. We have implemented our framework all the way through. We have continually moved our health units into higher levels of limitation and lockdown, and even prior to our shutdown order this past weekend, and our attempt to stay and slow the spread. We have seen that we have kept that number below the projected amount, but that’s not good enough because now we see even with our numbers having not been up to four to 5,000 a day, the number of people going into ICU, the younger people are going in quicker, are going in more ill and are impacting our ICU in a much more rapid rate.

Dr. Williams: (32:01)
Therefore, we have to take even further action. And that’s why I am recommended to the premier and the minister of health that we had to go to a stay-at-home order with other restrictions to try and limit the amount of mobility of our citizens in and around Ontario because as we’ve seen over the long weekend, there was still a lot of movement and less than, I would say, full adherence to the care and cautions necessary. So, I see these as continually stepping up much like you would do with a patient. You start with some, you start with others and you keep enhancing and you move as you need to do to limit and bring this under control. And so now we have this step and we really have to work hard to get this under control because where variants are concerned while they, our numbers have not climbed as rapidly as anticipated, the impact on our population and those going in is higher than anticipated. And we have to take all steps we can to ensure the ongoing care, and we’ll get those numbers back down again, to ensure that our healthcare system is brought under control and we can handle this variant of concern the same as we have the other cases before us.

Speaker 2: (33:05)
Follow up?

Cynthia Mulligan: (33:12)
Sorry. Thank you. While you were answering it, just then clarify to me from government staff that it’s only teachers in the highest risk neighborhood of Toronto and Peel that will actually be able to get vaccinated starting next week? Can you tell me how many teachers that will be? And can you give us more detailed, premiere, on the plan to vaccinate essential workers, say at large factories? How many, and again, why didn’t you start that earlier after we saw what was happening at Amazon?

Premier Doug Ford: (33:42)
Well, first of all, thank you for that, Cynthia. Let me start it off with the businesses, and I’m tired of all the politics, municipal, provincial, and federal. We need to work together and I’m not going to be pointing fingers. At the time the supply of the vaccines weren’t there. Now they’re there and they’re doing a good job, the federal government. We’re getting quite a few vaccines and we proved it. Once we have the vaccines, we’re able to vaccinate over 100,000 people yesterday. I don’t know the end result today, but we’re going to exceed that again today. So, we’re focusing on those areas now since we have vaccines. We’re going into the high priority neighborhoods. We’re focusing on the companies. We re going into high priority neighborhoods, literally knocking on doors to pull people down in the high priority neighborhoods. So, we’re really having a targeted approach.

Premier Doug Ford: (34:47)
We have a two-prong approach here. This is the plan. The plan is limit mobility to protect our ICUs. The plan, to get needles into people’s arms. We’re going into places of worship. We’re going into companies. We’re going into neighborhoods. And we’re focusing on those neighborhoods. Now as for the teachers, I understand with the teachers, if we could go right across the province, which we will once we have more supply, we’re focusing to make sure that Toronto and Peel and the special education workers right across the province, the special ed teachers, they’re going to get vaccinated. And the other areas, be it Hamilton or Ottawa, they’re right behind them. But it really all depends on the volume of vaccines.

Premier Doug Ford: (35:40)
Keep in mind for every vaccine we give someone that’s taking it off someone else. Right now we have behind us 1,500,000 appointments. Is actually now I think 128,000 people have booked appointments as of noon today. So, that’s even out of date. That’s how quickly it’s moving. So, folks, please book a vaccine appointment. It is absolutely critical. I mentioned yesterday, ages 60 and older, we had over a million people that have not booked a vaccine. I’m going to be as blunt as I can. Your life is in jeopardy if you don’t start getting a vaccine, get needles into people’s arms. Again, 97% of the people that are dying are 60 years of age and older. And going back to schools, 98.9% of schools are currently open. 99.8% of students do not have an active case. 99.28% of students have never reported a case of COVID. When it comes to staff, 99.77% of staff do not have an active case. And 98.82% of staff have never reported a case of COVID. These schools are safe. They’re one of the safest places, and we’re going to make sure they’re safe by vaccinating the teachers as well.

Speaker 2: (37:11)
Next question. Your next question comes from Antonella Artuso with the Toronto Sun. Please go ahead.

Antonella Artuso: (37:16)
Hello premier.

Premier Doug Ford: (37:17)
Hi Antonella.

Antonella Artuso: (37:17)
I wanted to ask you, is there a reason why your government has provided so little notice for lockdowns and restrictions that are impacting millions of people? This is further to Cynthia’s question, it gives a sense of chaos. It’s very frustrating for people. So, is there a reason for that?

Premier Doug Ford: (37:36)
Well, again, we have the two-prong plan. We’re taking the approach that as we saw the ICU capacity grow, as we saw this variant move, it was different than the experts told me last week. It’s as simple as that. And as it excelled, then we got the call yesterday saying, “Hey, it’s going quicker than expected.” You have to be nimble. You have to be quick. I was decisive. Immediately, I said, “Start writing the orders,” immediately. So, if I just stand still and just keep with the same plan and just keep doing the same thing, it doesn’t cut it with this virus or the variants that are coming in. You see what’s happening out in BC with the Brazilian variant, you know? And as it’s moving across the country, it’s concerning.

Speaker 2: (38:25)

Antonella Artuso: (38:25)
Oh, thank you. Your government said that it has increased hospital resources, added field hospital, yet we’re hearing as your health minister talked about, surgeries, elective surgeries, being canceled, patients being moved around the GTA, maybe farther a field. Why is that?

Premier Doug Ford: (38:44)
Pass it over the minister of health.

Minister Christine Elliott: (38:51)
Well, we have made considerable increases into the number of beds available, knowing that with COVID-19 there would be a large number of hospitalizations. So, we’ve increased the number of beds by 3,100 since last year. We also, even with the budget, put in another 125 million to create another 500 spots. We have been increasing capacity at every hospital that we can, creating as many beds as we can. We also are ready to stand up a mobile hospital at Sunnybrook and are ready to start one in Hamilton as well. But not withstanding all of these accommodations in the significant capacity that we’ve built in, the hospitalizations that are happening as a result of these variants are taking over our hospitals. That’s why we’re having to cancel most surgeries and procedures, many of which have been delayed for a long period of time, and why many patients are having to be transferred from one hospital to another across the province. This is not just a GTA issue. We know that even in Kenora, if they have someone that needs to go to another hospital, they only have four intensive care beds. They cannot send anybody to Thunder Bay or to Winnipeg. So, this is a situation that is happening across the entire province, and that’s why we needed this stay-at-home order in order to be able to get these numbers under control so that we can care for the people who are coming into hospital with COVID. But also people who may be involved in a significant car accident or people who have heart attacks. We need to make sure that we have capacity to care for people that need intensive care, stabilization and care.

Speaker 2: (40:35)
Next question. Your next question comes from Travis Dhanraj with Global News. Please go ahead.

Travis Dhanraj: (40:41)
Hi there.

Premier Doug Ford: (40:43)
Hi Travis.

Travis Dhanraj: (40:44)
This is for Dr. Williams and for everyone. Dr. Williams, last week my colleague, John Michael McGrath from CDL, asks you point blank if the state of COVID in Ontario amounted to a failure in public policy. You disputed that assertion. My questions to you now amidst the backdrop of record ICU numbers, schools closed in the largest city in the province and rapid variants spread is, do you stand by that assessment? For the premier, the minister of health and the solicitor general, do you agree with Dr. Williams that the response from this government has been appropriate and timely considering the dire circumstances we were all in and the fact that the third state of emergency is now in place a year after all of this began?

Dr. Williams: (41:31)
So, when you asked the question last week, we said we moved into the so-called shutdown. We took steps to take that into position. As I said, the numbers of cases, and we’re not the only jurisdiction, our fellow provinces to the west are facing the same types of issues as we all seek to try and bring under control. And so I think the policy decisions are timely and at a good pace. We’d always liked to be ahead even further, if we could see it happening. I think they have to be taken in stride because there’s parts of the province that are not affected yet, but as the minister of health said, some parts throughout different areas are being impacted at different times in different way. That’s how the variants of concern are presenting themselves. They move very quickly and we have rapid escalation. And so we are moving as quickly as we can to put these other restrictions in place to limit the spread.

Dr. Williams: (42:28)
The vaccinations are moving out as fast as we can to cover our most vulnerable populations. So, I don’t see [inaudible 00:42:35] as a failure or as a total success along the way because we’d have to be preempting that along. Over the weekend, for example, we were in the low 400s with our ICU bed, our numbers of cases stayed at the same amount and yet the ICU admissions went up quite rapidly that we didn’t see and anticipate. It is because of that situation that we now have to take this step where our cases have only gone up slightly over the week yet the hospitalizations and the ICU admissions have gone up even more rapidly than was anticipated. And this is a crisis situation in our healthcare system that we want to solve before it gets worse. So, I think the situation is one of timeliness and responsiveness, and we’ll continue to take those steps.

Dr. Williams: (43:20)
People in Ontario know what they should be doing. People know Ontario what they could be doing. And we said before that you have to be doing everything personally to do your distancing, masking because of the essence of when you are aware of it with these variants of concern, the VOCs, if you have them in your area, we’re trying to tell you now you need to be very concerned, BVC. And then to be very careful with your behavior and activity when you have those in your area, because it can hit very quickly and people who are asymptomatic can be transmitting. So, the measures that you need to do, you must do all the time very carefully because we are doing our part by putting the measures in place. But it’s very critical that you need to do your part. We all need to do our part in carrying out this step to bring this under control as all the other provinces are doing at the same time.

Speaker 2: (44:15)
Follow up?

Travis Dhanraj: (44:18)
Sure, I guess the premier and health minister and solicitor general ought to address that, but premier, I have to push back on the sick days that you talked about at the beginning of your news conference here. Every single time you’re asked about this, you punt to the feds. And we are hearing from doctors on the front lines about factory workers, ride-share drivers dying with COVID-19 in the hospital. People who are without paid sick leave. And you continue to point to federal benefits that for some don’t come for weeks and are minimal compared to the cost of living in hotspots like Toronto and Peel. How are these folks expected to do the right thing and take time off when it jeopardizes their ability to feed their families and puts their lives at risk?

Premier Doug Ford: (45:01)
Well, again, well, Travis, we’re-

Premier Doug Ford: (45:03)
Well, again, Travis, we’re going to agree to disagree on this. Again, paid sick leave, rather than everyone, be it yourself or other people in the opposition, want to continue preaching about sick days rather than actually not doing a disservice to the people that are telling you to, but actually tell them, go to ww.canada.ca/covid-19. There’s $750 million there. So if it’s so bad, 300,000 Ontarians have access to the program already. And by the way, because of the hard work and the great work that all premiers have done, we were able to access 1.1 billion. And, again, I want to thank the prime Minister and the federal government for putting this forward.

Premier Doug Ford: (45:49)
And by the way, it’s not weeks. It’s a couple of days. It’s anywhere from three to five days that they were able to get this done. They extended it for four weeks. So your argument just doesn’t fly. I’m sorry, Travis, but it’s not cutting the mustard. Simple as that. There is a program out there. If I put the word Ontario and not put Canada, would you be happy? It’s the same taxpayer. We’re all paying the same taxes. There’s one taxpayer out there. Simple as that.

Speaker 2: (46:17)
Next question.

Speaker 2: (46:19)
Your next question comes from Rob Ferguson with the Toronto Star. Please go ahead.

Travis Dhanraj: (46:28)
Hello, premier. I want to get into the ICU issue a little bit. You were talking about how fast it’s risen and that’s what was the trigger for this. We are hearing that there’s going to have to be an indemnification order for doctors who very soon are probably going to have to make life and death decisions on what levels of care people can get. So when is that order coming or have you done it already?

Premier Doug Ford: (46:53)
I’ll pass that over to the Minister of Health.

Minister Christine Elliott: (47:08)
Well, thanks very much, Rob, for the question. We haven’t finalized any of that yet because we are really working to make sure that we can accommodate the people that are in intensive care that they may need to be transferred. But we want to make sure that anyone who comes into hospital either with respect to COVID or for any other reason, can be cared for. There are some emergency protocols that are out there. However, we have not finalized any of that yet, and we want to make sure that we put all of our efforts right now into making sure that we can have that capacity. That’s the reason for this stay-at-home order. This is the reason why we are really asking people to please follow the public health measures and please get a vaccination when it’s your turn.

Speaker 2: (48:00)
Follow up.

Travis Dhanraj: (48:04)
All right, thank you. Another thing I don’t quite understand is talking about how these ICU levels that all of a sudden taken off more than expected, but I do believe the modeling already said 600 by April 9th, I believe, so that’s only a couple of days away. I’m wondering, Dr. Williams, how you could be surprised, or Premier Ford, how you could be surprised that it took off this fast when you’ve been hearing the warnings from the science table since January or February that these variants were dangerous, highly contagious, and could move very quickly. This just doesn’t seem to add up, and can you tell me what the actual rate of increase in the last couple of days that you’re setting, how much it was and how much more it was than you expected?

Dr. Williams: (49:01)
So when we had the modeling a week ago, we were looking at the data then. As you said, they were projecting back three weeks ago that by now we’d be at 4,900 cases a day, and our ICU numbers would be over 500 or approaching that number. Last week, we were still in the upper two 2000s, so we had moved, and with our steps and processes put in place with our lock downs in various areas, that number was lower. We were in, they thought around the 2% to 3% growth rate, not the 1%, and there were concerns. Over the weekend, our case numbers stayed around 3000, but our ICU numbers went up more rapidly and not in proportion to the case numbers. And the recent data I’ve seen said, we may be approaching more closer to the 5% and 6% growth rate in the last two to three days. So that changed fairly drastically since last week.

Dr. Williams: (50:05)
So the rate of growth is increasing and the hospitalization and ICU admission rate is also increasing. So some things were in sync with the modeling. Some have moved out even quicker ahead with the rate of hospitalization. This is still what was projected that we could do it, but also with the steps that were trying to take place we were seeking to keep the numbers down if we could, especially our case numbers. And now today, we are over 3,200. We’re still below the 4,900 that was anticipated, but that doesn’t give us much solace in the fact that we’re having a higher percentage going quickly into the hospital, going to the ICUs, and taking up those beds, especially with younger people going into them now at a higher rate and in a more severe case when they’re presenting to the hospital than they did before.

Speaker 2: (50:55)
Last question.

Speaker 2: (50:55)

Speaker 2: (50:57)
Your final question comes from Christina Succi with CTV News. Please go ahead.

Premier Doug Ford: (51:03)
Hi, Christina.

Antonella Artuso: (51:04)
Hi, Premier. Thanks for taking my question.

Premier Doug Ford: (51:06)
Thank you.

Antonella Artuso: (51:07)
Obviously, a lot of people are wondering how the stay-at-home order is going to be enforced. So the Solicitor General back in January said it was going to be at the discretion of the officer. Really, their powers are limited that basically people could not be stopped unless there were reasonable grounds to show they were violating rules, but just the suspicion or a hunch wasn’t considered enough to stop anyone. So what is going to be different this time? How are you going to get people to comply with this? Because right now I would say the frustration and the pushback is probably at an all time high. And does the emergency order give you the authority to change the requirements to stop somebody in this case?

Premier Doug Ford: (51:43)
So before I pass it to the Solicitor General, I’m pleading with the people of Ontario. Please, for the sake of your loved ones, for yourself, for everyone in Ontario, please just stay at home. That’s all we have to … We did it before and it worked. It worked when we stayed at home. Everyone knows, we don’t have enough police officers to run around and chase people down and knock on 15 million people’s homes. But we were asking for the cooperation. We have the two prong approach. I didn’t tell you the third prong approach. The third prong is the people of Ontario. You’ve been great. You’ve been fantastic so far. Everyone’s pitched in. I want to thank the frontline healthcare workers. I want to thank, and I forgot to thank, the firefighters yesterday. I thanked the EMS paramedics, but the firefighters, the police, emergency service folks, they’re the champions. And I’ll pass it over to the Solicitor General.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (52:49)
So, as you can appreciate, the enforcement piece of the stay-at-home order is not just about police officers. It’s not just about by-law enforcement officers. It’s our labor inspectors that are going into those hotspots, those businesses that have had unfortunate outbreaks. We are putting all efforts into, A, ensuring, people know what the rules are, that they don’t unduly put themselves at risk by getting together, by congregating with people outside of their family. And yes, at the end of the day, when those rules are broken, there are a number of different enforcement components that are available. But I think the Premier said it very clearly, we are hoping and we are relying on the people of Ontario to do the right thing.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones: (53:42)
We have an opportunity in the next 28 days to be able to vaccinate, if the supplies come in, 40% of Ontario adults. Give your friends, your neighbors, communities, your business associates that window to stay safe for the next 28 days while we continue the vaccine roll out. Thank you.

Premier Doug Ford: (54:10)
And we’re going to wrap up now?

Speaker 2: (54:11)
We have one more.

Premier Doug Ford: (54:12)
Okay, one more.

Speaker 2: (54:13)
We’ll take your follow up, Christina.

Antonella Artuso: (54:15)
Okay. Okay, great. Sorry, I wasn’t hearing anything on my end. Maybe that was my phone. And I totally appreciate that response. Obviously, you want to have faith in the people of Ontario and there’s certainly a lot of people who have been compliant and willing to make those sacrifices that a large part have not been. I mean, so far, I mean, I know the Solicitor General said we’re hoping people are going to do the right thing, but they haven’t been or else we wouldn’t be in this place. So, I mean, at this point, if that’s what you’re relying on, do you really think that this is going to make the difference? Or have you considered even a longer stricter lockdown to be in place and stay that way instead of the open close tug of war? Because there’s suggestions that this open and close back and forth is only prolonging the pain of the pandemic and the brunt to businesses.

Premier Doug Ford: (55:05)
Well, Christina, good question. We did it before and that’s why I’m confident it’s going to work again. We did it in January, and I hear you, the anxiety of people, the people are frustrated. Every everyone’s frustrated. I get frustrated, everyone gets frustrated, but you think the frontline healthcare folks that have been doing this from day one, we’ve all been working around the clock. But look at the frontline healthcare workers, and I just mentioned the teachers and everyone else, that have been going at this non-stop. This is not the time to give up. I’ll never give up ever. I’ll go right to the end, and we will get through it and we’re going to lead the province. But I want to paint a little bit of a positive, because all we hear is negative, negative, negative. You go one side, it’s wrong. You go to the other side, it’s wrong. I always stick with health.

Premier Doug Ford: (56:04)
But let’s look at the positive side. We’re hammering out more than anyone in the country more vaccines. In the next day or two, we’ll be over three million. The testing, remember the testing when we first started? We weren’t doing it. We’re at 13 million. I don’t even know anywhere in North America that does 13 million tests. The rapid test, we’ve deployed over five and a half million rapid tests out there. Again, everyone is pitching in. So please, folks, let’s stick together. We’re at the end of this battle, and we just need to stick together and follow the rules. And that’s it. We need to get vaccinated. Again, if you’re over 60, please get your loved one vaccinated as soon as possible. And we’ll be able to get through this. That’s all we’re asking. Again, we have a strong strategy, a strong plan of targeting neighborhoods, going into specific hotspot neighborhoods and literally door knocking, trying to bring people out of their homes and down from their condos and their apartments.

Premier Doug Ford: (57:17)
We have mobile units as we speak going out there right now to get people vaccinated. We’re going into high priority workplaces, meaning the poultry houses, the pork, manufacturing of all sorts, right across the board. We can do it. We will do it. We have the greatest doctors in the entire world right here that are busting their backs off every single day. Folks, why don’t we take a break in negativity for three or four weeks? And let’s start being positive. We’re team Ontario. We will get through this, and we’re going to come out stronger than anyone ever. And then we’ll kickstart the economy and we’ll leave everyone in the dust when we start kick starting the economy. Trust me, we will recover. So thank you, everyone. And God bless you.

Speaker 2: (58:11)
Thanks, everyone.

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