Premier Doug Ford said in his first news conference in nearly a week that the province moved “too quickly” in announcing sweeping new measures aimed at combating the third wave of COVID-19 in Ontario. “We simply got it wrong. We made a blunder.” Last Friday, the province announced new measures that gave police more authority, including the ability to stop people on the street and in their vehicles at random and question them about why they had left their homes during the stay-at-home order.
After police forces across the province said they would not enforce the measure, the government withdrew those widely criticized powers. The government also reversed its decision to close playgrounds. Ford issued an emotional apology while announcing that his government was actively working on a provincially run paid sick leave benefit to combat the spread of infection in critical workplaces. The premier stated that the federal budget released on Monday did not include the “significant improvements” to the Canada Recovery and Sickness Benefit (CRSB) that he had hoped for. “That is why we are now developing our own solution to fill those gaps for everyone in Ontario,” Ford explained. “We will develop this program, and it will once again be the best in North America. As we speak, we are brainstorming solutions.”
As the province grapples with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts and members of the opposition, as well as the province’s own science advisory table, have called for paid sick days for essential workers.
Ford has long rebuffed such calls, citing the CRSB as a viable alternative and cautioning against “double dipping.” Critics of the federal program claim that it does not go far enough and that workers must wait for retroactive payments if they miss 50% of their work week.
Ford is currently isolated after one of his employees tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. According to the premier’s spokesperson, he has since tested negative.