Ontario surpasses 5,000 reported COVID-19 deaths as cabinet debates new restrictions
Premier says announcement on new measures coming Tuesday
By Shawn Jeffords
TORONTO — Ontario’s cabinet was to consider new measures Monday to fight skyrocketing rates of COVID-19, but a curfew was not one of them.
The discussion over additional restrictions was to take place as the province recorded more than 5,000 deaths from the virus.
Premier Doug Ford said residents can expect an announcement on new measures on Tuesday.
“We worked all weekend … right until late hours last night,” he said as he arrived at the legislature ahead of Monday night’s cabinet meeting.
“We’ll be going to cabinet with recommendations.”
Senior government sources with knowledge of the measures being considered confirmed that an overnight curfew was not recommended by public health officials.
The government is also set to make new COVID-19 projections public on Tuesday. Ford has said those figures are very concerning and warned of “rough waters” ahead.
Officials in government and health-care have warned that surging cases are putting great strain on the health-care system.
The premier said Friday that the current provincewide lockdown could extend past January, along with new public health measures to respond to rising infections.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused the Ford government on Monday of “stalling” on new public health restrictions, a move she said will cost lives.
“Tougher measures are not only overdue, they must be backed by a major investment in immediate supports like paid sick days for every Ontarian, safe isolation facilities, and direct financial help for small business owners and individuals,” she said in a statement.
Liberal health critic John Fraser said the government is displaying a “lack of urgency” despite the rising death toll from the virus.
“We have seen firsthand how delays cost lives,” he said in a statement. “Time is our greatest asset during a pandemic.”
The province reported 29 additional deaths from COVID-19 on Monday — along with 3,338 new cases —which brings the total number of deaths reported to 5,012 since the start of the pandemic.
The government said 1,563 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, with 387 people in intensive care and 268 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, elementary school students across northern Ontario returned to in-class learning Monday morning.
All students began their winter term with online learning this month and the government announced last week that students in southern Ontario will continue attending classes remotely until at least Jan. 25.
The northern portion of the province is allowed to return to school buildings as positivity rates for COVID-19 in that region are relatively low.