Premier Ford roundup: migrant workers, app, tenants and federal funding

FORD

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says migrant farm workers in the Windsor-Essex area can't be afraid of getting tested, repeating once again that they will be protected should they test positive.

This comes after the health unit in the area ordered a work stoppage at one farm, after 191 workers tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. 

"All the workers went and hid, we were able to retest three or four out of 190 and that's why my emphasis to the workers, nothing's going to happen," he said. "Ontario is here to help you, make sure you get better, make sure you get healthy." 

Two areas of the region are still in Stage 1 and both the health unit and the province have declined to name the farm where the outbreak occurred. 

"When I call people out, it's because they're trying to gouge someone, they're trying to take advantage of the public, these poor farmers, they aren't trying to take advantage of anyone," he said. "We just need the cooperation of the workers." 

FUNDING 

Ford's comments come the same day the government the province announced an additional $150 million in municipal funding to homeless shelters and housing during the pandemic. 

But when asked how some big cities need even more than that, Ford said the easiest solution is less stringent rules by the federal government. 

"They've given us seven parameters and seven parameters don't work for all the provinces," he said. "Very simple, hand us a cheque over per capita and let us fall into those categories." 

APP 

A new contact tracing app that was supposed to launch today in Ontario has been delayed and it's unclear when it will begin. 

The app is being developed in a joint venture with the federal government and Ford that's where the pause is coming from. 

"It's ready to go, I think they (federal government) just need a buy-in from a few more provinces and open it up nationally and I stand with the prime minister on doing this," he said, adding there's still work to be done on provinces sharing data with Apple and Google. 

TENANTS  

Premier Doug Ford began his funding announcement today referencing the province's moratorium on residential evictions.

But as more of the economy reopens, it's unclear exactly how long that will last. 

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark says his office continues to work with that of the attorney-general, as the government's Bill 184 Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act 2020, is currently in committee.

Clark says it will add measures to helping protect tenants, such as adding mediation to the landlord and tenant board once it resumes. 

"I don't have anything to add today on the restart of the LTB, but again, I have been working very closely with the attorney-general," he said.

The NDP has criticized the bill as giving too much power to landlords and is tabling an amendment that would ban pandemic-related evictions altogether. 

"While landlords may not be able to execute evictions just yet, they haven't stopped threatening tenants that they're coming," Suze Morrison, Ontario NDP Tenant Rights critic, said, arguing landlords will be able to bully tenants into signing bad repayment plans during the pandemic. 

With files from the Canadian Press