QUEEN’S PARK — Doug Ford’s move to end the State of Emergency Tuesday and re-open the province within two weeks without any new public health protections is sending a dangerous message that it’s time to go back to business as usual, said Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath.
“People deserve hope that this time, when we open, we’re opening for good,” said Horwath. “We’ve been stuck in a cycle of one step forward and two steps back. We’re paying the price because Doug Ford keeps making the same mistakes again and again.
“Last March Break he urged everyone to travel. At Mother’s Day he held a family gathering. At Christmas he delayed the lockdown so people could shop and get together for the holidays. By ending the State of Emergency now and announcing that it’s time to start re-opening — without investing in new protections — he’s repeating the same mistake again, sending a message that it’s time to let up, and dooming us to repeat the cycle of sickness and shut-downs.”
Horwath said the re-opening should be slow, and come with new protections like paid sick days, in-workplace COVID testing, in-school testing, and more capacity to contact trace.
When Ontario began the move into Stage 2 of its reopening on June 12, 2020 — a stage which kept many businesses and all malls closed — there were 182 new cases, province-wide. Now, Ontario is counting more than 1,200 cases per day.
NDP Tenant Rights and Housing critic Jessica Bell (University—Rosedale) said that among Ford’s mixed messaging is the news that the eviction ban will start to be lifted Tuesday, with a plan to allow all evictions to be enforced again within two weeks.
“Families all over the province have lost their income, their job, or their business through no fault of their own as a result of the pandemic,” said Bell. “They’re still in the thick of this pandemic, and it’s not safe to force people to find shelter, apartment hunt, crash with friends or family, or survive on the street while the virus is still running rampant. It’s putting people at risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. Yet, Ford fired the starting gun on evictions Monday.
“The eviction ban was full of loopholes — but Doug Ford should be fixing it, not scrapping it. For those who have lost income due to the pandemic, a rent subsidy and legislated eviction ban are absolutely as necessary as ever.”