We’ve finished one week of the new lockdown measures here in Ontario, but we have not yet detected any benefit in terms of decreased daily new cases or the rapid rollout of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines. Official Opposition leader Andra Horwath is demanding answers, and she’s demanding to get them in-person from Premier Doug Ford and his ministers, and our own local MPP agrees.
“Long-term care homes are in a humanitarian crisis. Seniors are being forced to cry out to beg for food and water, while they’re left vulnerable to deadly infection. The province is lagging far behind the country on vaccinations, and doesn’t appear to have a plan to ramp up. And COVID-19 is spreading faster than ever,” said Horwath in a statement.
As reported last week, only 13,200 out of 96,000 available doses of the Pfizer vaccine were issued in the first two weeks of vaccine distribution, and distribution was effectively shut down for a couple of days over the holidays. Meanwhile, the Canadian Press is reporting Monday that a full one-third of long-term care homes in Ontario are presently experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, including 19 new outbreaks on Sunday alone.
“The vacations need to stop,” Horwath added. “All MPPs need to return to the legislature. We are facing a longer, deeper lockdown because Doug Ford keeps choosing to do too little too late. Let’s stop him from continuing to make that choice.”
The legislature rose on December 11 and is not scheduled to reconvene again until February 18. Like Horwath, Guelph MPP and Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner thinks that’s too long to wait to address the current crisis.
“We all need to work together to re-evaluate the government’s pandemic response and determine what more can be done. COVID cases continue to rise, and we need to act now to avoid a longer lockdown,” Schreiner said in a statement. “The Ford government needs to answer for the humanitarian crisis in long term care homes and why they haven’t made a formal request to the federal government for assistance.”
Both Horwath and Schreiner are calling on the Ford government to allocate billions in unspent COVID-response funds, call up military and federal resources for long-term care homes, and to pass Schreiner’s private members bill to give all Ontario workers paid sick days.
“The Ford government needs to answer for the humanitarian crisis in long term care homes and why they haven’t made a formal request to the federal government for assistance,” added Schreiner. “Instead, the Premier and his cabinet have been distracted with their party members flouting their own public health rules.”
“Doug Ford has been resistant to spending, and resistant to action,” said Horwath. “The suffering, the loss and the anguish doesn’t have to continue on this scale if we make different choices.”
Public Health Ontario announced 3,270 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Monday, which doesn’t break a record, but is uncomfortably close to breaking the record set last week with one-day increase of 3,363 cases. There were 29 deaths related to the virus on Sunday, including 14 in long-term care. The number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario hospitals is rapidly approaching 1,200.