Ontario's new top doctor 'very sorry' for pandemic's negative impacts

As Ontario enters the second phase of the economic reopening, the province’s newly appointed top doctor is offering a rare apology for the lives lost and the businesses impacted during the pandemic.

In an exclusive interview with CTV News Toronto, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said the extended closures of indoor dining and gyms — the longest in North America — weighs on him heavily as the burden of managing COVID-19 now rests on his shoulders.

“I am very, very sorry for all of the negative consequences of this pandemic on everyone,” Dr. Moore told CTV News Toronto at Queen’s Park on Tuesday.

“And I'm sorry for every death and every hospitalization and every person that has been in the intensive care unit and for every business that's been affected.”

That said, Moore believes the province needs to be hyper-cautious in the face of the highly transmissible Delta variant which is quickly becoming the dominant strain in Ontario.

During his first news conference as Chief Medical Officer of Health, Moore dampened any hopes or expectations that the third and final step of the economic reopening will be fast tracked as the province blows past the required vaccination targets.

“We need to be prudent and we need that 21 day [interval] to be able to understand the impact of opening on our communities," Moore said on Tuesday.

If the province holds firm on the 21 day timeline, Step Three, which allows for indoor dining and gyms, would begin on July 21.

Dr. Moore told CTV News Toronto, however, there is “wiggle room” with the date if the right conditions were met, but stressed that he’s not going to make any promises “except to be data driven.”

“If the province continues to achieve the high vaccination rates, and we continue to see despite increased social contacts and increased travel within the province, that we're not seeing a rise in the virus… then I'm very open to follow data driven decision making and reward Ontarians for the hard work that they've done,” Moore said.

Moore said he is undertaking a review of how decisions are made during the pandemic to take into account “the mental, the physical, the social impacts, and the economic impacts” as the province transitions out of lockdowns.

“I do want any public health response to be proportionate to the risk to be prudent to be responsive,” Moore said.