Premier Ford roundup: Stage 3, school start, migrant misinformation and Goldie getting shut down
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says late July is "pretty close" for the launch of Stage 3 of the province's economic reopening plan.
"I just don't have the crystal ball, I can't give you an exact date," he said Friday. "We're doing everything we can and we're moving responsibly."
As for businesses that have had to shut down and employees that have lost their jobs because of the restrictions, Ford said the province is trying to do everything it can to reopen safely.
"We're going to go full steam ahead on the economy, we're cutting red tape regulations, making sure there's incentives to continue moving forward and being competitive in the global market,
The latest Stats Canada data saw Ontario's unemployment rate rise to 13.6 per cent in May, up from 11.3 per cent in April and Ontario has lost more than one million jobs from since the pandemic started to the end of May.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of Education sent a memo to school boards recommending they start the school year by September 1st, although Ford reiterated Friday it was just a suggestion.
"No one's going to put a gun to anyone's head, we'll leave it up to the regional school boards to make that decision," he said.
Boards are required to submit their multi-option school opening plans by the first week of August to the ministry, which includes how they would do in-class learning, remote learning and the hybrid of both.
Ontario Public School Boards Association President Cathy Abraham said this week that schools will be ready despite the challenges, including implementing the new math curriculum, but admits it's been difficult.
"Nevermind trying to figure out timetabling and all of those things, I know that there's school boards in this province right now that are doing things like making sure they have the proper signage in schools, if you've been in a grocery store, you'll recognize this," she said. "It is a lot, and I'll be the first to say that, but our school board personnel are working very, very hard."
Premier Ford also clarified comments he made the day before about testing migrant farm workers in the Windsor-Essex region, arguably the hardest hit area of the pandemic.
Ford said Thursday that workers were hiding from re-testing, but said after multiple conversations Friday morning with various health officials, that that was wrong.
"I did receive misinformation and I'm a true believer, when there's misinformation you stand up here, you apologize and you move forward," he said, though he declined to say exactly the misinformation came from.
He also confirmed that emergency management staff were dispatched to the region to assist with testing and controlling the outbreak.
The health unit in the area ordered a work stoppage at one farm, after 191 workers tested positive for COVID-19 over last weekend.
Ford voiced his frustration after hearing about a Toronto bar that's been shut down after up to 150 people are alleged to have been inside last Friday night, with no physical distancing measures in place.
The manager, owner and corporation of Goldie night club on King St. W. have been charged with Fail to Comply with an Order Made During a Declared Emergency, while the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has suspended their license and served notice to revoke it.
Toronto Police allege the club had no outdoor patio or seating areas and that people were allowed in through a back door.
"Why risk it? You're smarter than that," he said of those who attended. "All it takes is one person in that bar out of 150, gives it to another, gives it to another and it's just rapid fire, then all of a sudden they go home and they go and visit their grandparents or their elderly parents."
"You're putting your family at risk, your putting your friends at risk, why, over a couple of drinks?"
Raymond Kannert with the AGCO says the vast majority of licensees have been complaint and usually when there's been problems, it's because they didn't know the rules and correctly fixed them.
But this one was new for him.
"I've never encountered, never heard of such a violation in my career here, it's extraordinary, but these are extraordinary times and we have to keep a level head," he said.
Friday was also the final day for the Canadian Armed Forces in Ontario's long-term care facilities, which have been massively hit by the virus.
CAF personnel had been in facilities since April.
Ford was also asked about the promised independent commission into LTC, that is slated to start this month.
"We'll be coming out with that sometime, very, very shortly, I just want to make sure we have the right folks and the right person leading this," he said.
With files from the Canadian Press