Remember mask mandates? We had them just a few weeks ago, and mysteriously, once they were removed by the Government of Ontario as of March 21, COVID-19 cases started going up again. Using this advanced scientific reasoning, Ontario’s three main opposition party leaders spend their Thursday calling on the provincial government to bring back mask mandates in some form.
“Keeping Ontario open and keeping people healthy requires us to follow the science. And the science tells us that masks continue to be an important layer of protection against COVID-19,” said Guelph MPP and Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is a statement on Thursday.
“Public health experts are calling for mask mandates in high-risk settings and for essential services, like grocery stores, pharmacies and schools, as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise significantly across the province,” Schreiner explained. “Ontarians across the province are seeing friends, family, and colleagues get sick. People are looking to the Premier for direction and guidance, but he’s missing in action. We need clarity and answers, not more confusion.”
Official opposition leader Andrea Horwath joined Schreiner in her own statement calling for the return of mandatory masking in schools and other high-risk settings, plus 10 mandatory sick days and the restoration of broad access to PCR testing.
“Health care workers are exhausted, and becoming infected with COVID at an alarming rate. And every bed taken by a COVID patient is another delay for someone waiting in pain for a surgery,” Horwath said. “It’s clear that Doug Ford dropped masks too soon, and we’re all paying the price — no one more so than the people waiting in pain for a surgery or procedure.”
Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca also said yes to the move back to mask mandates in schools and retail settings, but he also warned that the provincial government is still on track to remove all the remaining mandates by the end of the month.
“Ford’s Conservatives are still planning to end all mask mandates in long-term care homes and hospitals on April 27 – this is a huge mistake. Mask mandates need to remain until this sixth wave wanes and be expanded to include essential indoor settings such as schools, pharmacies and grocery stores,” Del Duca said.
“It’s also time Ontarians stopped being forced to guess if they’re sick or contagious. Ontario Liberals demand that Ford Conservatives make PCR tests accessible to all Ontarians,” he added.
In the legislature today, the Minster of Health said that the current increase in COVID cases was not unexpected. “As Dr. Moore himself has said, we should not be surprised to see an increase in the number of cases that we’re seeing in Ontario because we have released a number of the public health measures and we have a more transmissible variant, but vaccination is the key to success,” said Christine Elliott.
Elliott also responded to criticism of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore’s lack of appearance as of late. Several reporters have been posting to social media that requests for interviews with Dr. Moore are being denied, and Moore’s last weekly briefing with the media was on March 9.
“Dr. Moore has chosen not to appear in regular conferences because, in his words, we have to learn to live with COVID as it is now,” Elliott said. “We can’t continue to have to need weekly updates when we know that we are seeing an increase but the increase is manageable.”