As the province set a record for the second time this week for the most number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day, Premier Doug Ford took a beating from all opposition parties about his government’s recent action (or inaction depending on your point of view). Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner was among them, and in a statement Thursday he railed against “more game show tactics from Ford.”
“Today is another tragic record high of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Over two months ago, the Science Table predicted this very disaster if urgent measures were not taken,” Schreiner said in a statement. “But instead of taking decisive action, Ford continues to tease announcements instead of taking the necessary measures to control the spread of the variants and support people and businesses to get through the third wave.”
According to Public Health Ontario, there were 4,736 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, an increase of 14 per cent from the day before. There have been over 4,000 new cases of COVID every day in Ontario for the last four out of five days, and on Thursday alone more than two-thirds of the new cases are variants of interest with over 2,800 alone from the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the United Kingdom.
But it gets worse. According to some media reports, government sources are saying that new daily case counts could exceed 12,000 and be as high as 18,000 by the end of May. The cabinet are supposed to be reviewing that new modelling later today, and could announce new, more restrictive measures tomorrow including a curfew, new limits on non-critical construction projects, and new enforcement powers for the police.
“This is a pattern we have seen all too often since the pandemic began. We need transparent and decisive action, not half measures or teased announcements,” Schreiner explained. He said that the Province needs to target high-risk workplaces with accessible, on-site mobile clinics; legislate paid sick days, and provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated; and, deploy rapid testing and mandate medical grade PPE in vulnerable workplaces.
“It’s too late to wait until the new modelling data shows up in hospitals to act,” Schreiner added.
Anger and frustration in press releases boiled over in Question Period on Thursday when official opposition leader Andrea Horwath hammered Ford over the government’s current response.
“The Premier was warned back in February that we were going to end up exactly where we are now,” Horwath said. “People were failed by this Premier, so my question is when is this government, when is this premier, going to stop making excuses, stop blaming everybody else and start protecting those frontline essential workers?”
Instead of responding to the substance, Ford attacked Horwath by saying she’s not a team player, and not being terribly supportive of healthcare workers herself.
“The negative talk that comes out of the leader of the opposition again does a disservice to all of the frontline health care heroes, all the people of Ontario, and it’s coming from a person that has done diddly squat!” Ford said. “She sits there and criticizes the hard work of the health care workers and the doctors that give me advice. Why doesn’t the leader of the opposition do something once in a year and a half?”
Meanwhile, Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca spent his morning putting the Auditor General on notice that he intends to officially ask for an investigation into the failures of the vaccine rollout, how the hot spots were chosen, and what consultation was done on by the government.
“Doug Ford is hoarding vaccines while hotspots like Scarborough, Toronto, Peel and others are begging for their fair share. Our hotspots are on fire and he’s letting them burn,” Del Duca said. “If appointments are being canceled in Ontario’s hardest hit regions in order to keep supply for appointments booked weeks or months down the line in areas with fewer cases, Doug Ford needs to come clean on why. And if he won’t, the Auditor General needs to get to the bottom of it.”
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph on Thursday saw another big increase in cases. There were 102 new cases of COVID to bring the total number of active cases up to 620. There have been nearly 6,200 cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic.