Multiple sources tell CTV News Toronto that Premier Doug Ford is pushing for additional laws to speed up Ontario’s reopening plan.
As of Feb. 21, the government plans to lift capacity limits in indoor settings that require confirmation of vaccination, with the goal of eliminating all capacity limits by March 14.
Some local leaders, though, have been pressuring the government to bring the timeframe forward, with Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown telling reporters on Wednesday that he believes there are “real implications” to waiting.
Now sources tell CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello that Premier Doug Ford has personally asked that new regulations be drawn up to fast-track the reopening. The sources said cabinet could consider the matter as early as Friday but a spokesperson for the premier later clarified that no meeting has been scheduled for this week.
“The province is moving in the right direction to have most of the COVID restrictions removed by no later than the middle of March. So good news there but we are always following the data,” Government House Leader and Minister of Long-Term Care Paul Calandra said during a committee meeting at Queen’s Park on Thursday. “We have seen the outbreaks, hospitalizations and ICU capacity really start to come down very quickly so we are constantly monitoring that to see what amendments can be made and when they can be made but always with an eye of caution to ensure that we remain on track.”
The number of people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 has been steadily declining for weeks now and now stands at 1,897 after peaking at more than 4,000 in mid-January.
There has also been a marked decline in other public health indicators such as positivity rates and case counts.
Officials with the Ontario Science Advisory Table have warned that the reopening of businesses and the increased mobility of residents will likely result in a “rebound” in hospitalization rates under all but “the most favourable assumption” but sources tell CTV News Toronto that Ford has nonetheless been expressing a desire to make a decision soon to move on from pandemic measures behind closed doors.
It’s unclear whether Ontario’s proof-of-vaccination requirements and required mask order would be repealed as well, while Health Minister Christine Elliot said less than 24 hours ago that both restrictions would be kept in place for the time being.
“The trends are currently trending in the right direction, but we can’t rest on our laurels and assume that this will always be the case,” Elliott said at a press conference on Wednesday morning. “We’re not promising the people of Ontario that this will last indefinitely.” But we’re not out of the woods yet, so we must continue to safeguard Ontarians and each other with passports and masks.”