Ford Roundup: dismissing overreach, A/C in LTC and social gathering increase coming with Stage 3

FORD

Ontario Premier Doug Ford dismissed the notion his new legislation on extending emergency powers is government overreach, despite it allowing his government to implement pandemic measures over the next year.

The Reopening Ontario Act was tabled today and the government hopes to pass it on July 24th, allowing it to continue certain emergency measures, but without being in a state of emergency.

To correspond with the bill, the government will also table a motion Wednesday extending the current state of emergency until the 24th, after which the act will come into effect. 

"There's certain emergency orders that we need to continue on, protecting the most vulnerable people in Ontario," he said, arguing while we may not need to be in a state of emergency past the 24th, the threat of COVID-19 will persist. "If we have to make a quick decision on long-term care for example, we have to make it." 

"I'm dead against big government, I'm dead against the big brother nanny state telling you what to do," he said. "But if we have to help the people get through this, there's certain things that we've got to move and we can't sit around." 

He was asked about the possibility of the measures lasting for two years, coinciding with the next election.

"No I want this wrapped up as soon as possible," he said. 

The bill will not allow the creation of new emergency orders, but rather the ability to amend, extend or remove existing ones.

AIR CONDITIONING IN LONG-TERM CARE HOMES 

As for other potential legislation, Ford said he's now considering a law that would require air conditioning in long-term care homes after learning that some seniors are dealing with temperatures of almost 30-degrees in their rooms. 

Although concerns around seniors dealing with heat during the pandemic have been raised before, this was the first he had heard about it. 

"I'll jump on it, give me the homes and I'll be all over it," he said. "Stuff like this bothers me, give me the home and I'll call them personally, because we got to do it, put the investment in to make these people comfortable." 

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there have been concerns around how fans can potentially transfer droplets, but seniors dealing with such conditions is unacceptable. 

"We need to make sure that these very, vulnerable citizens are safe and comfortable and we need to take whatever steps we have to take to get them there," she said. 

Ford also took aim at facility operators responsible for the lack of air conditioning.

"I'd like to stick them in the room for 24 hours at 30-degree heat, see how they like it or put their parents in there," he said.

SOCIAL GATHERINGS

Elliott said there's no plans to change the current social gathering limit, currently pegged at 10 people. 

"It's going to be something that will happen together with Stage 3," she said, adding the command table is also considering what the increase will be. 

Ontario's largest regions - Toronto and Peel - entered Stage 2 on June 24 and the province has earmarked two to four weeks between stages. 

Elliott said they've been encouraged by their public health officials to address both measures in conjunction. 

It still isn't clear when Stage 3 will occur, as the final two areas of Windsor-Essex - Leamington and Kingsville - entered Stage 2 only today after migrant farm outbreaks got under control.